( K. 0(.D1 \
ISLES OF SCI LLY.
Vos et Scyllseam rabiem, penitusque sonantes
Accttetis scopulos : vos et Cyclopia saxa
Expert! : revocate animos, mcestumque timorem
Mittite : forsan et haec olira meminisse juvabit.
I. W. NORTH, M.A.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY B. HOWE AND RON.
LONDON : LONGMAN AND Co.
THB character of the book, here submitted to the reader, has been somewhat
altered by circumstances which have occurred since its publication was first
contemplated j since, indeed, the former part of the work was in print. It
was originally intended to be nothing more than a guide-book for tourists and
visiters, directing them to the chief objects of interest in the Isles of Scilly.
The earlier excursions furnish evidence that this was my first design. But
this intention was changed by the unexpected offer of some valuable contri-
butions on the Natural History of the Isles, and by fear on my part that the
account given of the islands would be thought dry and unattractive. I was,
therefore, led to consult the works of others, with the object of enriching my
pages from the materials collected by men of research and eminence.
The paragraph quoted by Borlase from Leland's Itinerary in page 124,
may be found in the fourth volume of Davies Gilbert's History of Cornwall,
page 266. The other notices of ' Scylley' are highly curious ; but it scarcely
fell within the compass of this work to make any further quotations from
this ancient writer.
From Carew's Survey of Cornwall, first published in 1602, much cannot
be gathered of the History of these Isles. Carew, indeed, professes not to
include them in his work; but he briefly adverts to the fabled land, the
Lionesse, said to have formerly united the Isles with the main land.
" Lastly" he observes, speaking of the changes which the County of Cornwall
has undergone, " the encroaching sea hath ravined from it the whole country
of Lioness, together witli divers other parcels of no little circuit ; and that
such a Lioness there was, these proofs are yet remaining. The space between
the Land's End and the Isles of Scilly, being about thirty miles, to this day
retaineth that name, in Cornish Lcthowsow, and carrieth continually an equal
depth of forty or sixty fathom (a thing not usual in the sea's proper dominion)
save that about the midway there lieth a rock, which at low water discovereth
bis head. They term it the Gulf, suiting thereby the other name of Scilla."*
He mentions also the Garrison as "a fort at Scilly, reduced to a more
defensible plight by her Majesty's order, and governed by the foreremembered
Sir Francis Godolphin, who with his invention and purse, bettered his plot
and allowance ; and therein hath so tempered strength with delight, and both
with use, as it serveth for a sure hold, and a commodious dwelling. "f One
other reference to the Isles I have found in the Survey, which is of import-
ance, as showing at how early a period they were regarded as an object of
ambition, even by crowned heads. "At Saint Buriens," Carew writes, " a
parish of great circuit, King Athelstane accomplished his vow, in founding
a college of priests, what time he had conquered the Sillane Islands." $
From Borlase I have made several extracts. It seemed, upon reflection,
wrong to leave unnoticed the legends of Druidical remains, said to be existing
on the Isles. In directing attention to some of the principal rocks I could
not but observe that they have been regarded as objects of superstition. And
this remark almost naturally drew me to the pages of the Antiquarian. I
have quoted freely both from the Antiquities of Cornwall, and from Borlase's
Letter to the Dean of Exeter.
It will be seen that I have, inadvertently I confess, transcribed from the
pages both of Drew and of Davies Gilbert an account of the disaster which
befel Sir Cloudesley Shovel. The former gives the whole story at length ;
the latter throws discredit upon it. The reader will be enabled to compare
the opinions of the two, and to form his own upon the subject.
From Troutbeck and Woodley I have not hesitated to take whatever
appeared to be of value.
To Lady Sophia Tower I beg to tender my grateful acknowledgements for
her tasteful embellishment of my book. The kindness, which she has shewn
in preparing her beautiful drawings for the Lithographer, has laid me under
For myself I must take leave to express unaffected regret that the part
which I have had in the work, is unworthy of the Papers, which have been
put into my hands, and the assistance so kindly given. Unexpected facilities
have been afforded for making my account of these interesting Isles both
'•••••'.rat- and full ; and I embrace this opportunity of expressing my obliga-
:ions and offi-ring my thanks to those gentlemen whose careful and exact
information give a substantial value to the following pages.
• pp. 6, 7. t p. 21.-,. J p 386.
The visits paid to the Isles by Mr. Carne, Dr. Cams, and Mr. Cooke,
were exceedingly opportune for the completion of my work. The valuable
contribution, which closes the book, has been very kindly furnished by the
former of these gentlemen, who bears strong testimony to the sanative virtues
of the Islands.
Dr. Carus was induced to take up his residence amongst us with a view to
obtaining specimens for the Anatomical collection in Oxford, under the
direction of Dr. Acland, who is Lee's Reader in Anatomy at that Univer-
sity. Dr. Acland chose the Isles as the seat of the first embassy from
the Anatomical Museum, because this locality had not been previously
explored ; and because the Geographical position of these Islands, at the
entrance, as it were, of three seas, the Bristol, the Irish, and the English
channels, together with their proximity to the current called Kennel's,
awakened in him a hope that some curious and interesting results might
be hence obtained.
Mr. Cooke came, as it were, accidentally, for the sake of seeing the Isles
and examining their botanical features.
The height of the prominent objects in the scenery has been supplied by
Serjeant Steel, who in the summer of this year was stationed in the Isles, in
command of a detachment of the Royal Sappers and Miners, for the purpose
of measuring a degree of longitude from the most Southern point of England
to the Isle of Rona, the most Northern of the British Isles in this meridian.
These several heights were determined by observing the angles of elevation
and depression from the Balcony of the Light-house on St. Agnes. The
precise height of the Balcony above mean water was found, by levelling from
the North side of Priglis, to be one hundred and forty five feet. The distances
used in the computations were taken from Spence's chart, published in 1810;
and one fourteenth of the contained arc has been allowed for refraction.
I did not receive the information, which Serjeant Steel very readily gave,
until the work had made some progress. I was, therefore, under the necessity
of omitting some of the measurements which were thus furnished for my use
or of inserting them in the Supplemental Chapter. The latter plan I have
I have adhered in great measure to the plan expressed in the Title,
which I had long ago fixed upon as most suitable to my work. Nor
would I allow myself to deviate so far from my first purpose as to enter
into any lengthened discussion upon irrelevant questions ; such as the origin
or probable meaning of names, &c. I ought, perhaps, to have fortified the
opinion which I have given as to the origin of the word " Scilly" by referring
to Davies Gilbert, who speaks of the Isles as deriving their name " probably
from the abundance of eel or conger fishes taken there, called Sillys or
Some persons will, I dare say, be of opinion that I have entered too much
into detail. It may be so. My intention, however, will not be blamed. I
wished, as far as possible, to answer every question which it was likely that
a vi>iti-r would propose; and, if I am too minute, the error is, I believe, on
the right side. This desire has obliged me to crowd into the Excursion of
each day more than can be conveniently accomplished in so short a space of
time ; and will, I hope, be deemed sufficient apology for the length of the
preface and for the supplemental chapter.
Some delay has been occasioned in bringing out the book by my inability
to hold personal communications with the Printers and Publishers. It will
be readily acknowledged that there is much disadvantage both to myself
and the Publishers in being so far apart from each other ; or rather in having
a difficult sea rolling between us. This will, I trust, be admitted as some-
what of an excuse for the Errata, which I am compelled to insert. It is
material to correct the statement made in the fifth page, by observing that a
second vessel, the "Ariadne," now sails between the Isles and Penzance. The
"Ariadne" sails from the Isles on Monday and from Penzauce on Friday in
As there is a propriety and significance in the names given to places and
objects in the Isles, I subjoin a brief vocabulary, which may be of use to my
Brea Bre signifies ' a mountain' ; and hence the name of Bryher, originally
Brehar. " This island" says Borlase " is very mountainous ; whence its
name, in Cornu-British signifying a high mountain."
Cam or Cairn signifies ' a shelf in the sea' ' a heap of rocks.' The earns
are a striking feature in the scenery of the isles.
Carreg is <a rock' This word probably enters into the composition of
Carrick-starne, the bold rock in the sea on the southern side of St. Mary's,
fronting the Pulpit rock. Start i.e. 'firm,' 'fast' may guide us to the
meaning of the last syllable.
Guel or Huel " in Cornish signifying a working for tin" may perhaps give
iU name to the Western hill of Bryher and to the islet which lies opposite
Guen signifies a plain or down. Guee is green, lively, flourishing. May
not that part of St. Agnes which ia called the Gugh derive its name from
one of these words ?
Ikliik (helik) is a willow tree. Hence Forth Hellick.
• D»Tie» Gilbert's Hlit. Cornwall. Vol. Hi. p 430.
Helek ' moory,' ' marsliy.'
Leh ia ' a flat stone.' Carn-leh is a group of flat rocks.
Logan means ' shaking,' ' rocking.'
Maui1, when compounded with another word, Vaur, signifies great ; and
this helps us to the origin of the word Menavawr, which has been corrupted
into Menavore, alias Man o'war, from the fancied resemblance of this noble
rock to a ship in full sail.
Meinek which probably gives its name to the beach near Old Town, Forth
Minick, means ' stony.'
Men, Min, and Pen, which are the first syllable of so many words, signify
' a head' ' a hill ; ' ' stones ; ' ' a promontory.' " A point of land was in
Cornish called Pen." *
Morva signifies a place near the sea. Hence Cam Morval.
Scilly is, in Pryce's Vocabulary, rendered, cut off. He adds "from
hence the Scilly Isles. Cut off from the Insular continent." This does
not appear the probable derivation of the word.
Tre is an original British word, and means 'a town,' 'a gentleman's seat.'
Davies Gilbert defines it " a dwelling place, or an assemblage of dwellings
and, therefore, a town." Trenoweth, St. Mary's, means 'new dwelling-place,'
nowydh or noweth signifying ' new.' Thus also Tresco is ' the place of elders,'
scao meaning in the Cornish language ' an elder tree.'
Vean and Vear, which form the latter syllables in the names of two of the
Western isles, signify respectively little and great ; Vear being the same with
Veor. Ros, a mountain, is, probably, the former syllable in Rosevear and
• Da?ies Gilbert's Hist. Cornwall. Vol. iv. p. 317.
St. MARY'S, ISLES OF SCILLY,
Accommodation, Means of Communication — Lionesse . . . Page 1
Samson, Bryher, adjacent rocks and isles 8
Tresco, Isles between Tresco and St. Martin's 17
The Bishop, Western Isles, Annet, St. Agnes 33
Eastern Isles, St. Martin's 51
St. Mary's, Peninnis, Rock basons, Kettle and Pans, Old Town, Holy
St. Mary's, Southern Coast, Telegraph, Porth Loo, Garrison, and
Heights, Druidical Remains, Single Stones, Provisions, Produce, Ship-
building, Education, General prosperity • 123
Longevity, Causes of Death, Supply of fresh water • 1 43
Birds . . . .
Crustacea . . •
Zoophytes . . •
LIGHT-HOUSE IX COURSE OF ERECTION ON THE BISHOP ROCK AS TT APPEARED
PREVIOUS TO ITS TOTAL DESTRUCTION IN THE TERRIFIC STORM ON THE
NIGHT OF THE 5th OF FEBRUARY, 1850, Frontispiece.
ABBEY GARDENS, TREPCO
OLIVER'S CASTLE, NEW GRIM8BY HARBOUR 21
STAR CASTLE AND HUGH TOWN, St. MARY'S 47
THERE are several works on the Isles of Scilly, larger
and more elaborate than this. But they do not seem to
supersede the necessity of a smaller book, which may serve
as a manual or guide to some, who have not leisure to
consult fuller and more detailed accounts. The information
here supplied is of quite a different character from that
which the antiquarian or the lover of research desires. He
may be referred to Borlase, Heath, Troutbeck, or Woodley j
and from their pages he will gather many curious and
interesting particulars of these Islands. But it has often
occurred to the author of this volume, during a residence
of some years in these pleasant isles, that a book such as
that now offered to the public is much wanted.
Little is generally known or thought of this Western
extremity of England, notwithstanding the existence of so
many works on the subject. The publication of some
beautiful sketches made in the summer of 1848, by Lady
Sophia Tower, who has kindly lent her aid to adorn and
2 A WEEK IN THE
ri.m-h this little book, can scarcely fail to draw the attention
of tourists to Scilly; and to inspire in them a wish to
become acquainted with scenes so various and replete with
beauty. For it is this which must strike every visiter.
There is nothing common or ordinary in the scenery of the
Isles. Where will you look for anything of precisely the
same character or kind ? A cluster of Islands in the midst
of the sea, abounding in fine, bold views, and possessing
every advantage of harbours, soil and climate, and inhabited
by a race of people who speak the English language with
a remarkable purity of accent, and who are well skilled
in the arts of agriculture and shipbuilding, as well as in
those other trades, which are necessary to the comfort and
convenience of life.
From whom are the inhabitants descended? Of what
country were their earliest ancestors ? What was the old,
classic name of the Islands? Are they the Cassiterides
mentioned by Pliny and others, and of which Herodotus,*
with his usual frankness and caution, confesses himself to
have been ignorant ? f
• Lib. iiL 115.
t Any one who wishes to discuss this question and to know the
opinions which have been advanced upon it, may with advantage consult
the Appendix to Facciolati Lexicon, under the word Cassiterides. One
paragraph I venture to quote. "Pro Sorlingis vel Siluribus insulis
accipiendas esse Cassiterides censuit vir plurimoe his in rebus auctoritatis
Camdenns nostras: quse Insulse sitae e regione Cornubite promontorii
LiMsei, numero plus minus sunt centum et quadraginta quinque, gramine
amcenae, avibus aquaticis abundantes, stanni quoque non parum feraces,
unde antiqnum illis nomen. Earum decem extantiores sunt, quarum omnium
maxima est St. Mary's." "Our Camden, than whom there is no greater
authority on these subjects, is of opinion that the Cassiterides are the Islands
intended by the Sorlings or the Silures : which islands, situate directly oppo-
ISLES OF SCILLY.
On such points of enquiry, it is not the object of the
writer to enter, or even to give his opinion. His design is
obvious. He brings the visiter to the islands, and leads
him from place to place, telling him where to go and
what to see. He has endeavoured to be exact ; and what-
ever faults may be found with his work, he is not conscious
of any incorrect or inaccurate statements. The orthography
of the names of islands and places is that used in a survey
of the Scilly Isles by Graeme Spence, 1792.
The title which has been adopted for this little book,
does not by any means imply that one week will suffice
to explore all the beauties of the islands. A much longer
period, even a whole summer, might be spent in this
remote and unfrequented part of Cornwall. Nor would
the time drag heavily along, as is so frequently the case
in all the monotony of our more fashionable watering
places. There is, on the contrary, a greater variety of
enjoyment offered to the visiter, if he is in search of
pure air, healthful exercise, picturesque views and bold
scenery, within the circuit of these islands, than can be
found in places of more general resort.
It has frequently been the practice of tourists to regard
the Isles of Scilly as a place to be visited, if there are a few
days for which no better occupation can be found, when
they have seen the Land's End and St. Michael's Mount,
and the other objects of interest in the neighbourhood of
site to the Lizard in Cornwall, are about a hundred and forty five in
number, charming in their verdure, abounding in water fowl, yielding not a
little quantity of Tin, whence their name is derived. Of these islands ten
are more conspicuous than the rest, of all which, St. Mary's is the greatest."
A WEEK IN TH3
Penzance. Or, it may be, they have availed themselves, if
they happen to be in the West of England of " an excursion
to the Scilly Isles," advertised by the owners of the steam
packets, which sail between Hayle and Bristol ; and have
thus paid a hurried visit, sufficient only to convince them
how great is the mistake of supposing that two days can
afford an opportunity for seing the many objects of interest
which are here to be found. A glance at the contents of
this volume will show that such a trip, however agreeable to
some who love a sea voyage, is altogether insufficient for
those who wish to gain any tolerable acquaintance with the
interesting scenery and fine rocks which give a peculiar
beauty to Scilly. For this purpose a far more leisurely
survey is required ; and it will save disappointment to such
visiters, if they will previously enquire what attractions the
Isles present, and what accommodation they offer for a
longer sojourn. The attractions which the Isles present,
it is the especial object of this book to show ; but of the
accommodations which they offer a few words may first be
Let it then be known for the comfort of all, who think
of Scilly as only an assemblage of ship-destroying rocks
and fishermen's huts, that there are several inns at
St. Mary's where every comfortable entertainment may be
had. The principal are those kept by Mumford, Bluett,
1 1 irks, and Ellis. Here as well as in some private lodging
houses, visiters will receive all requisite attendance, and at
The communication between the main land and the Isles,
ISLE8 OF 6CILLY.
is on the whole regular and certain. The Lionesse Packet,
so named from the tradition that the Isles of Scilly were
once joined to the main land of Cornwall by an isthmus
called the Lionesse,* is a comfortable vessel ; under the care
of able and experienced seamen, who are ready to show all
kindness and attention to their passengers. Of one thing it
is necessary to apprise all who intend to sail in her. She
carries no store of provisions. It is, perhaps, a just cause
of complaint that the master declines the risk of purchasing
supplies of food for those who take a passage with him.
He alleges as his excuse the roguery of some who, having
regaled themselves at his expense, afterwards refused to pay
for what they had eaten. But it matters not what is the
cause ; the result is simply this, that you will have nothing
to eat, however hungry you may be, unless you lay in a
stock before you embark. At present the Lionesse sails
from Scilly on Monday and Friday, and from Penzance on
Wednesday and Saturday.
If the wind is favourable, the voyage from Penzance to
Scilly will occupy between five and eight hours, though it is
sometimes made in even less than five hours ; and, as the
Packet sails at nine o'clock, a. m., the visiter will, in all
probability, reach his destination sometime before sunset.
The Isles are a peculiarly striking object as the vessel nears
them from the mainland. Those first approached are St.
Martin's and the Eastern Isles. On the eastern end of
St. Martin's is placed a day mark, which is a conspicuous
• The reader will find in Woodley's pages an elaborate discussion of
this curious question, which can hardly find place in this work.
A WEEK IN THE
object as the sailor presses towards this dangerous coast ;
and warns him to keep a respectful distance from the
ledges and rocks which would otherwise put his bark in
peril. As the vessel holds her course towards Crow Sound,
the channel by which at or near high water she enters The
Road, a high conical rock, called Hanjague, presents itself.
Passing this you reach in quick succession a group of isles,
which both in situation and appearance have remarkable
features of beauty. Having entered The Road your eye
will at once be drawn to the rock which gives its name to
the channel between St. Mary's and the Eastern Isles. The
Trinity brethren have recently placed a beacon upon the
Crow Rock, before which the entrance to The Road by this
channel was extremely hazardous. A similar beacon has
been erected on the Woolpack, at the entrance of St. Mary's
Sound ; which course a vessel is obliged to take when there
is not sufficient depth of water over the bar of sand in Crow
Sound. Assuming that you are so fortunate as to gain the
harbour by the shorter course, through Crow Sound, the
opposite shores of Tresco with the white sandy beach will
presently engage your attention. The large stone building
which stands on somewhat higher ground is The Abbey,
the residence of Augustus Smith, Esquire, the Proprietor
of the Isles.
On the coast of St. Mary's, nearly opposite the Abbey,
you will observe a fine mass of rocks called Cam Morval.
This Cam which forms the cliff, is of considerable height,
and very bold. Near it are the remains of some batteries ; *
ISLES OF 8CILLY.
and its precipitous sides point it out as an almost
natural fortification and bulwark of the harbour. It
needs the experience of a good pilot to bring a vessel
safely into the Pool. The channel lies between two rocks,
of which the larger is called the Cow and the smaller the
Calf. To the South West of the Cow is a dangerous
reef of rocks called Bacon Ledge, which must be carefully
avoided. Between this ledge and the Cow there is a
good channel for vessels coming into the port from the
West or South, through the Broad Sound or St. Mary's
The Pier, near which the Packet comes to an anchor,
was built at the same time as the present Church, in the
years 1835 — 38. It is, as you will soon have an oppor-
tunity of seeing, far more commodious than the old pier :
nor will it fail to surprise those who consider the subject,
that the islands should have been so long without the
protection and benefit of such a pier as they now possess.
The water within the ledges bearing the names of the Cow,
the Calf and Bacon Ledge, is called The Pool, and every
where offers good anchorage. So also does The Road to
the Northward of those rocks, where there is seven or eight
fathoms of water.
Following the plan which has been proposed, I shall
briefly mention the principal objects of interest in the Isles ;
so arranging them that a visiter, who has but one week
at his command, may, wind and weather permitting, form
a just opinion of their beauty. We will allot the first four
days to an examination of the off islands, as they are
ISLES OF SCILLY.
called, i.e. those lying at some distance from St. Mary's;
reserving the last two days for exploring St. Mary's, the
OUR first excursion shall be to Samson and Bryher.
Starting early in the morning, for we have much to see,
we will desire the boatman to steer us across The Road
in a westerly course, for the former of these islands.
At a distance of three quarters of a mile from Samson,
and about the same distance from Tresco, is the conspicuous
Nut Rock, the mark for pilots bringing vessels to the
main anchorage. Those two hills before you, to the most
southerly of which we will direct our boat, are the Isle of
Samson. You will find a convenient landing place on the
eastern side of the island.
Woodley says "There are strong grounds for supposing
that Bryher and Samson were formerly united, as they are
connected by sands which are passable at low water, and,
on the shifting of which, the remains of hedges have been
discovered in places which are now more than twelve feet
under water at high tides. Some ruins of houses are also
still visible in the sands on the shore." It is far more
10 A WEEK IN THE
probable that Samson was once united to Tresco ; as there
is much deeper water between Samson and Bryher than
between Samson and Tresco.
There are no longer vestiges of houses visible on the shore
of Samson; but the remains of hedges are both here, and
at St. Helen's and Tean, which lie between Tresco and
St. Martin's. In Woodley's time there were " seven houses
and thirty-four inhabitants" on this isle. There are now
but three or four houses, and proportionabiy fewer persons ;
it having been deemed advisable to remove the inhabitants,
as opportunities offered, to St. Mary's, that the parents may
have greater facilities for gaining their livelihood, and that
the children may enjoy the benefits of education. A visit to
their cottages will show you that such a change was on
every account desirable, although it is gratifying to see the
comfort and sufficiency which the present residents on this
isolated spot enjoy.
Ascending the highest point of land, you will gain a
commanding view of the Isles, and at one glance, take in
their relative situation and proportions. St. Mary's is seen
to great advantage with its Church and harbour, the
Garrison surmounted by the Star Castle ; St. Agnes with
its distinguishing feature, the Light-House; Annet stretch-
ing out towards the West, with its jaggy extremities, like
so many hay-cocks. Looking over its outer-most point to
the West, you will see the Bishop Rock, on which the
elegant Light-House which forms the frontispiece was in
progress of erection.
The rock which stands nearly due West from Samson
ISLES OF SCILLY. 11
Mincarlo > those more to the South are Little and Great
Minalto. That most to the West is Maiden Bower; and
to the North of Maiden Bower stands the rock which has
given its name to this our English Archipelago. Of the
origin of this name it is easy to form conjectures ; but as
nothing is definitely known, it may be left to eaeh person to
entertain his own opinion. The most probable solution
however is, that it derives its name from Silya which is the
Cornish for Conger.* In reference, probably, to the traffic
of the inhabitants in this fish, the bay on the North side of
St. Agnes is called Perconger, i. e. Forth Conger.
Scilly is a flat islet of massive rock, divided into two
parts by a deep chasm, through which the water flows.
Each part is surmounted by a small lump of rock, styled
the North and South Cuckoo. It is with great difficulty
that a landing is effected on Scilly or on any of the
neighbouring rocks, from the strong tides which run between
them. It can be accomplished only when the weather has
been for some time very calm.
Between Maiden Bower and the isle on which you are
standing are the Seal Rock, Illiswilgic, and Castle Bryher.
The last rock is a conspicuous feature in the scenery, and
arrests attention whenever the eye is turned in that direction.
Its bold and rugged summit rises finely above the low lands
of Samson and is seen from The Road and almost every
island of the group. Between the isle of Bryher and Scilly
is an uncultivated islet, called Gweal, containing seven acres.
* For this information, and the conjecture founded upon it, I ;uu
indebted to Augustus Smith, Esq.
12 A WEEK IN THB
From this picturesque group of rocks the eye will quickly
travel to Bryher, with its White Church, and Tresco, with
Oliver Cromwell's Castle. Having thus from a distant
height surveyed this portion of the group of Islands, you
will perhaps be disposed to rejoin your boat, and seek to gain
a nearer view of the several rocks and islets. If the wind
and tide permit a close approach to Castle Bryher or those
other rocks, in the midst of which it stands, the visiter will
be better able to judge correctly of their magnitude ; and
their dimensions will surprize him. Castle Bryher, for
instance, is between fifty and sixty feet in height. Maiden
Bower is a fine bold rock, and Scilly is acknowledged to
deserve the name of an Isle.
When you have seen as much of these outstanding rocks
and isles^as *your time permits, you should make for the
Northern promontory of Bryher, called Shipman Head.
By taking this course the visiter will leave unnoticed the
Southern and South Western portions of this Isle. He may
not deem it necessary minutely to inspect every bay or
promontory ; more especially as the prospect from the Town
Hill, to which I propose to bring him by and by, will show
sufficiently the chief objects of interest in the island. For
the benefit, however, of those who neither lack time nor
inclination to make the complete circuit of Bryher, I will
enter into a more particular description of its various parts.
The Southern Hill is called Samson Hill; and the bay
which lies nearly due South on the Western side of this hill
is marked in the map, Rushy Bay. This appears a more
reasonable name than Russia Bay, by which it is mentioned
ISLES OP 8CILLY. 13
in Woodley's history; for which he very properly says,
" it were vain to enquire the reason." Doubtless the' name was
suggested by the growth of rushes on that part of the island.
On and about that spot, more than any other on Bryher,
bunches of rushes are, I am informed, now to be found.
The bay, which lies at the West South West corner is
Stony Bay ; deriving its name from the shingle* with which
its beach is covered. Colvel Rocks are in a line with the
Southern promontory by which this bay is terminated,
and Heath Point is its Northern, or rather North Western
Between Heath Point and the next high land, which is
Gweal Hill, so named from the islet lying opposite to it, is
Long Bay, commonly called Great Forth. At low spring
tides you may easily walk from Bryher to Gweal.
Near the Northern extremity of Great Porth, and to the
East of Gweal Hill, " is a fine lake or pond of fresh water,
covering a space of between three and four acres, but
subject to brackishness by the spray of the sea."f Woodley
somewhat over estimates the extent of this pool, which does
not, most certainly, cover more than two acres.
There is also a spring of fresh water in the North West
part of the island which issues out of the cliff on the sea
shore. Troutbeck says that it " affords the only stream of
fresh water in this island." Woodley in his work states
that " it is too remote to be of service and is difficult of
* Shingle, small smooth stones. This word is, I believe correct, though
I cannot find any authority for its use in this sense.
A WEEK IN THE
access." However this may be, the spring is remarkable
for its purity, and is often resorted to by those who are
suffering from wounds or sores. Its sanative power is
generally understood and acknowledged. The bay itself
is also worth visiting; nor must we omit to notice the
peculiarity, which both Troutbeck and Woodley have
mentioned, that " upon this spring the sun never shines : "
the cause of this marvel being that the portion of the cliff,
from which the spring wells forth, is so situated that the sun
does not reach it in any season of the year.
The Western shore of Bryher presents to those, who view
it from the water, a great variety of scenery, in a succession
of high lands separated by deep bays from each other.
The cliff is very bold at Shipman Head, but you may con-
veniently land, on either the Southern or the Eastern side.
The South East side is the best. The rocks which form this
head-land deserve a close examination. The outer extremity
of Bryher is separated from its main-land by a yawning
chasm, which at the narrowest part is about twelve feet wide.
It is called the Gulf; "the sides of which are nearly per-
pendicular and appear to have been rent from each other,
rather than worn by the washing of the tide." * The highest
point of Shipman Head is upwards of sixty feet.
The Northern hill of Bryher, which Troutbeck describes as
"the roughest and most mountainous of all the Scilly
Islands," ofifers a very uneven surface and but a dreary walk
to the pedestrian. He may, therefore, well avoid it, and
make his way along the Eastern, or, more correctly, the
ISLE8 OF SCILLY. 15
North Eastern side of the island. This side of Bryher and
the Western coast of Tresco form the harbour of New
Grimsby. The Rock, which when viewed from a distance
seems to stand nearly in the middle of the channel, but
which may be reached on foot from Bryher at low water, is
called Hangman Isle ; from the circumstance, as Troutbeck
tells us, that some mutinous soldiers were hanged there by
the Parliament forces in the great rebellion. Nearly opposite
upon the shore of Tresco stands Cromwell's Castle, which
is kept in substantial repair by the Board of Ordnance.
The walk along the coast of Bryher in a Southerly direction
offers a continual succession of fine views. Large masses of
rock project from the cliff, overhanging New Grimsby, and
at its base is a path, which will presently bring you to the
foot of the Watch Hill. This you should ascend and from
its summit you will gain a fine extensive prospect, embracing
in great measure, the objects which you saw from Samson •
but from your change of situation they are seen in a some-
what different aspect. To the North, Hangman Isle, New
Grimsby Harbour, and Cromwell's Castle ; towards the East,
St. Martin's ; and about ten leagues distant, the Land's End.
In the same direction, but almost at your feet, the Abbey
Grounds, and the pond of fresh water ; Southward, the
Eastern Isles with their pretty green slopes even to the
water's edge ; St. Mary's with the white sands of Crow Bar
fill up the outline, and bring you once again to the Pier
and to the Pool. And it is time to think of returning
there; for the sun is declining towards the western wave,
and the shadows of evening will soon begin to lengthen.
16 ISLES OP 8CILLY.
But you may well linger a few minutes on this charming
hill. For how rich and lovely are the mellow lights which
now rest upon the landscape. Look once more at Cromwell's
Castle, and the clear, still pond of fresh water, stretching
towards the Abbey. The repose of sunset, the softness
of the air, and the clear waters, reflecting in their bosom
the many tints of a summer evening sky, will all concur
to heighten the interest of the scene. Descending from the
hill, a good road will conduct you to the Church, near
which you may re-embark for St. Mary's.
Troutbeck says "not many years ago, there were only
two families on this island, but now there are eleven."
" Two years since, " says Woodley " there were twenty-two,
and now, as appears from the enumeration of the houses,
there are twenty-four, and one hundred and forty inhab-
itants." The population at the present time, consists of
thirty families, and one hundred and nineteen inhabitants.
A careful examination of the Eastern shore of Bryher,
is recommended to those, who are desirous to add to their
collection of shells.
THIS day we propose to visit Tresco and the Isles between
it and St. Martin's. We will land on the Southern beach
of Tresco, at some point of the white sands, eastward of
the Abbey. In your course thither you will pass a fine rock
called The Mare, from its resemblance to the head and neck
of a colossal horse. It is connected with some ledges,
running «out towards the North East, which are visible at
low water. You will observe also, to the North East, a bold
rock which wears the appearance of a crown. It forms
the Southern extremity of Pentle Bay. The Northern
extremity of this bay is called the Lizard point. Pentle
Bay is the best place on the shores of Tresco for shells.
But for the present we must defer our visit to its beautiful
A good road has recently been made from the beach on
which we have landed to the Abbey grounds, offering to
conduct you to the margin of those large pools of fresh
water, which are so singular and beautiful a feature in the
18 A WEEK IN THE
scenery of this Isle. Near them, upon an eminence, stands
the Abbey. If you have received permission, and it is
seldom refused, to see the gardens and the grounds, you
must pass through the gate which is nearly at the end of the
road, and ascend the slope which lies before you, having the
Abbey on your left, and the plantations on your right hand.
You thus arrive at the principal entrance to the house and
gardens. Passing through the arch-way, you will be at once
struck with the extent and beauty of the view, and will
readily believe that the spot chosen by the Proprietor for
his residence, is the best which the islands afford. From
the terrace in front of the house, he commands a view of
The Road and all the principal Sounds; and from the hill
on which his flag-staff is placed, he sees the whole extent
of his domains, North and South, East and West.
On entering the gardens you will be charmed with the
gay profusion of flowers, some creeping on the ground, and
others climbing the rock-work, which affords at once shelter
from the winds, and inviting opportunities of display. The
climate and soil are very favourable to vegetation, and as
great a variety of plants and flowers is found here growing
in the open air, as in any part of Great Britain. Among
them we may notice the numerous tribe of Mesembrianthe-
mums, spreading in the greatest luxuriance and beauty;
Fuchsias of all kinds, Heliotropes, Crassulas, Egyptian
Arams, and the graceful Clianthus. These, and many other
yet more curious plants, flourish in our genial climate,
requiring only shelter and protection from the violence
of gales. The Geraniums and Myrtles, and sweet
ISLES OF SCILLY. 19
scented Verbena, grow to the dimensions of considerable
trees; and, later in the year, the gardens are adorned with
handsome bunches of Chrysanthemums. In the midst of
the gardens, stand the walls of the Old Abbey Church,
mantled over with the evergreen Geranium. Troutbeck
says " this Church is ninety feet in length, and thirty feet
in breadth, and stands due East and West. In the South
side wall, is a fine arch of good workmanship; and on the
North side has been another arch, directly opposite to it,
and of the same breadth, which is now fallen down, and
only six feet in height standing. The Church appears
from these two arches fronting each other, to have been
built in the form of a cross. The arch that is standing on
the South side, is twelve feet wide at the bottom, and runs
up to a sharp point at the top, which is sixteen feet high;
and on the West side of the standing arch is an arched
door. " So writes John Troutbeck in his work which he
most truly declares to be " entertaining to all degrees of
readers ; " but his account of the Abbey Church is certainly
inaccurate. The present Proprietor of the Isles has taken
great pains to ascertain the truth and he is clearly of opinion
that there never was a transept. The arch would lead
to the supposition that transepts had formed part of the
original design, but there is nothing whatever in the founda-
tion or other part of the building to show that the design
had been carried into effect. The stone used in the building
is granite, excepting the arches, which are cased with a
remarkably fine grit stone of a reddish colour, supposed
to have been procured from Normandy. " The Abbey was
20 A WEEK IN THE
founded in the tenth century, and was erected by some of
the Earls of Cornwall soon after the Norman conquest."*
" But, so early as the time of King Henry the First, this
monastery with all its appendages, was given to the Abbey
of Tavistock."f The interior of the nave was used by
the inhabitants as their burial place until the last thirty
years, since which period the dead have been interred in
the ground around the Church.
Returning from the gardens you will pursue your walk
along the road which leads to the village. On the right
lies one of the beautiful pools of fresh water, before
mentioned, containing a large quantity of eels and tench.
The two ponds cover a space of fifty acres. Straight
before you is Shipman Head, which is seen to great ad-
vantage from this road. In the still calm of summer
it is an object of great interest; one fold of rock, as
it were, succeeding to another and gradually contracting
the view by its nearer approach to the Northern side
of Tresco. In the rough storms of winter its appearance
is most grand; when the great waves of the Northern
ocean, breaking at its base, dash their white sheets of spray
over its highest ridges, and fall in foaming cascades into the
waters of the harbour. As you proceed along the road, you
will observe on the opposite side of the pond, a handsome
group of rocks perched finely on the hill, which rises with
a gentle acclivity from the margin of the water. The hills
of Bryher, which you explored yesterday, soon open on your
left hand, and you will recognize some of the rocks to which
* Drew. t Borlase.
f -- •-•
ISLES OF 8CILLY. 21
your attention was then directed. The road now skirts the
edge of the harbour, and leads you by a most pleasant route
in the direction of Oliver Cromwell's Castle.
The group of cottages on your right is called "the
Palace from a house of public entertainment formerly kept
here."* The road, after you have passed these houses, is
exceedingly pretty. It has been very recently formed and
leads to a convenient place of landing or of embarcation in
New Grimsby. The cliff rises somewhat abruptly on the
right; and masses of rock, some large and some small,
protrude from its green surface, and add greatly to the
interest of the scene. The road does not extend the whole
way to the castle ; which, however, you will have no difficulty
The tow^er is an excellent piece of masonry, " about one
hundred and sixty feet in circumference, and sixty feet
high. The walls are twelve feet thick, and raised on arches.
The roof is flat and has a battery of nine-pounders with a
parapet wall about six feet thick. These might be employed
with great effect in case of emergency, as the situation
commands the harbour in every direction. At the foot of
this building is a stone platform, next the sea, having also
a good parapet wall upon which some old iron guns are
Above this tower, on the top of the hill are the remains of
another fort, called Charles's Castle. A small piece of the
original wall is distinctly visible ; and in it are one or two
embrasures. Adjoining it are the ruins of a small out-
* Wood Icy. t Drew.
22 A WEEK IN THE
work. Near this spot about eighteen years ago an earthen-
ware pot was discovered, together with some pieces of
The view from this point will at once arrest attention.
Looking Southwards, how charming is the prospect of the
channel between Tresco and Bryher. Hangman Isle lies
immediately below. The hills of Bryher and its pretty
bays are on your right ; St. Agnes is seen in the distance ;
the Garrison and St. Mary's somewhat nearer, and many
other isles and rocks, with which your eye is now familiar.
This is a scene of great interest and beauty in clear, fine
weather. Nor is it less so, though the interest be of a
different character, in the season of storm and tempest.
The high ground, on which you are now standing, might
well be chosen by those who wish to see the waves lashed
into fury by a storm. When the wind has for some time
prevailed from the North West, the sea rolls finely in upon
the rocks at the back of Shipman Head ; wave after wave,
literally mountain high, breaking upon the iron-bound coast,
presents a scene of great magnificence and awe.
Being now at Charles's Castle, it should be mentioned,
to the honour of the Isles of Scilly, that this was the
last place in his dominions, which continued loyal and
true to the cause of Charles the First. "The Parliament
forces "says Troutbeck "under Admiral Blake and Sir
George Ayscue, intent upon reducing Scilly, the last retreat
of the cavaliers, took footing at first in this island of
Tresco." This circumstance would seem to claim for the
Scillonians some such proof of royal consideration as was
ISLES OF SCILLY. 23
shewn by our Sovereign in the summer of 1847. From
the days of Athelstan until the present time, if we except
the brief sojourn of the unfortunate Charles, no British
monarch ever set foot upon the land of Scilly, until the
Queen, with her Royal Consort and the Prince of Wales,
was pleased to visit it in her route to Scotland. Nor can
we reflect, without much thankfulness to God, as the Author
and Giver of all good, on the bright and happy contrast
afforded by the present reign to the troublous times which
immediately preceded the commonwealth. May our Queen
long reign in the hearts of a free and prosperous people I
May England long be the home of piety, plenty, and peace !
We will now leave this beautiful spot and bend our steps
across the Downs to Piper's hole, which is at the North East
point of the island. It is a work of some toil and difficulty to
explore this curious cavern ; and the services of two or more
of the islanders must be engaged, who will provide a small
boat and candles for your use. Some blue lights will also
be required for the purpose of a thorough inspection of the
cavern. You must be content to clamber over fragments of
rock and stones for some distance ; but, with the assistance
of an experienced guide, you will easily surmount all
obstacles, and reach a pool of fresh water, when the boat
will be called in requisition. The pool varies a good deal
in its length, and consequently in its depth, at the different
seasons of the year. The distance across it, which may be
called its length, is generally between twelve and twenty
fathoms. If there are more than sixteen fathoms of water it
is impossible for visitors to be ferried over it. But this is
24 A WEEK IN THE
very rarely the case in the summer months, when the water
has been reduced to even ten fathoms. Assuming then that
you have been able to cross the pool, you again land and by
the aid of the candles and the blue lights gain some idea of
the extent of the cave. Its inner recess is about one hundred
fathoms from the entrance.
Woodley tells us that " there are two other remarkable
caverns at the North end of Tresco, one of which is about
twelve feet high, three feet wide, and seventy feet long."
This is called by the islanders, Little Piper's Hole ; and
the dimensions given, are probably correct. He adds, " the
other is twenty feet high, ten feet wide, and above two
hundred feet long." This, from the enquiries which I have
made, I am induced to think a considerably exaggerated
statement. At all events, I am informed by an intelligent
pilot,* wrho lives on Tresco, that these caverns are not worth
visiting. Woodley is, however, quite right in saying, " On
the North West side of the hill, and about three hundred
yards from Piper's Hole, is a cavern, called The Gun, the
length of which is about sixty feet, where there is a spring
of fresh water called the Gun- Well, constantly running.
From Piper's hole you will have a pleasant walk along the
head of Gimble Bay, called Gimble Porth by the islanders.
The waves roll finely in upon the bar of sand, and break
around the base of Golden Ball, Menavawr and the other
rocks, which are seen from this Northern part of Tresco.
From Gimble Bay you must retrace your way to the Beacon
and the Town Hill, and thence to the Flag Staff, which is
planted on the hill at the back of the Parsonage.
* John Ellis.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 25
The view from the summit of this hill must not be omitted
in a description of the beauties of Tresco. The larger
pond of fresh water, the Abbey, the fields and the meadows ;
and in an opposite direction Samson and Bryher, and the
waters of New Grimsby are seen to great advantage.
Returning to the road, a few paces will bring you to that
part of the village called the Dolphin ; " probably from an
abbreviation of the name of the noble family of Godolphin,
so long proprietors of these islands."* In this central spot
stands the Church, a convenient and comfortable building, in
the form of a cross. Near it are the Schools ; the Infant
School, recently erected, is about as far from the Church in
the direction towards the Abbey, as the school for the elder
children is in the direction of Old Grimsby, the harbour on
the North Eastern side of this island.
On the high ground to the South, commanding a good
view of this part of the parish, is the Parsonage. " It is
pleasantly situated, although the aspect is North-North-East,
and commands a view of some well cultivated fields."-f- The
Dolphin fields are as good land as any in the island.
Boriase with his usual accuracy has thus noticed them;
"the soil is so very fruitful, that one field of seven acres
has been in tillage every year since the remembrance of
man, and carries exceeding plentiful crops."
Pursuing the road towards the harbour you will pass
upon your left hand some excellent gardens, which have
within the last few years been allotted by the Proprietor
to some of his tenants who occupy the cottages by the road-
* Woodley. t Boriase.
26 A WEEK IN THE
Here the Agent for the Trinity House, who also holds
other important offices, resides ; and a good house is now
building towards the North for the Master of the Light-
Ship at the Seven Stones.* This house is most conveniently
situated ; for from the high ground above it he can see the
vessel which is entrusted to his charge. On this island
dwellings are provided for all the men connected with the
Light-Ship, that they may be under the immediate superin-
tendence of their officers.
The harbour of Old Grimsby is overhung by a cliff, fifty
feet in height. Its northern extremity is Merchant's Point ;
and the several fragments of rock which jut out here and
there are called Permellin Cam, Permellin Rock, and Mer-
chant's Rock. On the Southern point of the harbour is the
Old Blockhouse, " twenty eight feet in length and twenty
two feet in breadth."f This battery, if put into an efficient
state, would be a serviceable means of defence to the harbour
in time of war. There is, at present, only one gun.
I must not fail to observe that the approach to this
harbour from the sea is exceedingly pretty; the bay, at
the head of which are the boat-house, belonging to the
Coast Guard, and several cottages which give a cheerful
aspect to the place, being seen to great advantage; and
the rocky cliff, of which I have spoken, supplying no
inappropriate back ground.
At this part of the island, the visiter should again embark
at the little Pier which he will find convenient for his use,
and sail in a Northerly course. The first islet which he will
• For a fuller notice of the Seven Stones, see the Fourth Excursion.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 27
pass is Northwithiel ; and steering to the South of Golden
Ball, which " is nearly joined to St. Helen's by a ridge of
rocks,"* he will approach Menavawr, the finest rock in
these seas. On this he must land, if it be practicable.
The most accessible part of the rock is at the South West
end. If he is so fortunate as to effect a landing, he will
find it hard indeed, but not so difficult as at first sight
appears, to mount its abrupt and precipitous sides. From
the boat it seems to forbid the thought of scaling its summit,
and to afford a secure and inaccessible retreat to the wild
birds which here lay their eggs in great number. But there
is no danger in the attempt to clamber up its rugged surface.
With the help of a friendly hand you may easily reach the
top, which is at the least a hundred feet above the level of
the sea. The rock is distinguished by three high peaks, of
which one is separated from the other two by a rift or chasm,
through which at high water and in very calm weather a
boat may shoot. There is, indeed, a channel between the
other parts of this rock. John Ellis, the Proprietor's chief
boatman, who has corrected my information upon this point,
tells me, however, that he is the only man in Scilly who has
ventured to take a boat through this second channel.
The more you survey this magnificent rock, the more
will you admire its grand and beautiful proportions; and
you will acknowledge that a visit to Menavawr is one of the
chief things to be accomplished by those who wish to see
the noblest scenery of the isles. When you have sufficiently
explored its rugged sides and highest points you should
28 A WEEK IN THE
re-embark and desire your helmsman to steer you round it.
Vicucd from the water on its Northern side it is peculiarly
Leaving Menavawr you should sail to Round Island,
where the Puffins breed; and, having examined its bold
and rocky sides, sail through the gap leading into St. Helen's
The island from which these waters derive their name,
appears to have been formerly inhabited. Troutbeck says
"There are the ruins of a church upon this island, which
is the most ancient Christian building in all the islands. It
consists of a South aisle twenty one feet and six inches
long, by fourteen feet and three inches wide, from which two
arches, low and of an uncouth style, open into a North
aisle, twelve feet wide, by nineteen feet and six inches long.
There are two windows in each aisle formed in the most
rustic manner ; and there is a stone jutting out, near the
Kastern window in the North aisle like a platform, on which,
it is supposed by some, the image of the saint stood to
\\ horn the church was dedicated. If this conjecture be true,
the stone must have been placed there long after the Church
was founded, for it is undoubtedly much older than image
worship, which was not known in England till the latter end
of the eighth or the beginning of the ninth century. It is
probable some priests or monks used to reside near the
c-hurt-h, for there are still the remains of houses built
in the form of cloisters." In these conjectures Woodley
agrees, " and from the contiguity of this island to Tresco,
'IVan, and St. Martin's, I presume" he says "that the
ISLES OF SCILLY. 29
inhabitants of these places resorted to St. Helen's for public
worship, before they had churches of their own. The site
of St. Helen's Church was well chosen. It stood on a
sloping ground, being sheltered by a long high hill from the
fury of a Northern gale, and opening to St. Mary's Road
(edged round, and, as it were inclosed, by islands) on the
South." It is difficult to speak with any certainty as to the
buildings formerly standing on this interesting isle. There
is a small portion of the original wall yet remaining ; but
the far greater part of that now standing is evidently of very
recent erection, being loosely put together without cement of
St. Helen's is now uncultivated, and the only building
upon it is the Pest House, which is opened to receive
patients from vessels under quarantine. Goats and deer
seem to claim the island as their domain. These animals
watch from the higher points of rock those who land upon
their territory, and are ill at ease until they see them again
retiring to their boat. But the visiter will do well to make
the circuit of this isle. There are many fine masses of rock
upon it. Those immediately above the Pest House princi-
pally deserve notice; but others towards the North are
exceedingly bold. On the Northern side of the isle, directly
opposite Hound Island, there is a fine chasm in the rocks,
through which the sea rushes with great force, finding for
itself a channel of scarcely less than one hundred and fifty
feet in length. This place it is worth while to explore. On
the isle, just above the innermost recesses of the chasm, is a
little chamber richly adorned with Asplenium Marinum.
30 A WEEK IN THE
Menavawr is seen to great advantage from St. Helen's ;
and as you walk along the North-west side of the isle, and
look towards New Grimsby, the houses in that part of
Tresco, with the boats and vessels riding peacefully on those
calm waters, and the rocks and islets in every direction,
present a scene of beauty and of interest scarcely inferior to
any which the isles afford.
The opposite shores of Tean, between St. Helen's and
St Martin's, next invite your attention. For the name of
this island Woodley claims a Greek origin. He calls it
" Tean, properly Theon, and hence, evidently of Grecian deno-
mination." The shape of this island is very irregular ; and
it has consequently several beautiful bays. " On the North
side of the island I saw a chasm in the rock similar to that
in White Island, but much smaller." * As the boat nears
the shore, you will at once perceive that this Isle is a preserve
of white rabbits ; which, here coiled up like a ball of snow,
and there coursing over the hill, give a charming variety to the
scene. "Here" writes Mr. Woodley "are several remarkable
earns. Near one of these (called Yellow Carn) are the
vestiges of a Druidical circle. Great Hill is a lofty eminence
of singular abruptness, especially towards the North. A high
rock called Penbrose (from the Cornu-British appellation
Pedn Brauze, signifying the high head land) lies about fifty
yards to the North of this Island. The passage between
Tean and St. Martin's is called Te'an Sound. It is studded
with rocks and ledges on each side, but has a good depth of
water in the middle, and may be safely used by a skilful
ISLES OF SCILLY. 31
From the high ground of Tean the Light Ship at the Seven-
Stones is distinctly seen in clear weather. Beyond it East-
ward, the Land's End. Towards Tresco, the Harbour of
Old Grimsby and St. Helen's Pool: on your left is St.
Martin's ; and at its Southern extremity the pretty group of
the Eastern Isles. Far away to the West is St. Agnes and
Annet ; while nearer in the same direction lies the coast of
St. Mary's, and the harbour; the Pier and the Garrison.
Here is a combination of objects similar to that which you
saw on Bryher, and yet so different in their relative situation
that the prospect has all the charms of variety, if not of
From this Isle you may embark on your return to St.
Mary's. Direct the helmsman to take the boat sufficiently
near to the Hedge Rock, in your course to the Pool, to give
you a good view of its form and dimensions.
WE propose as the object of this excursion, St. Agnes
and the Western Isles. It will depend upon the tide and
other circumstances whether the tourist first explore St.
Agnes and Annet on his route to the Western Isles and
Rocks, or make a cruise to the Bishop and Rosevear
with its cluster of isles, taking St. Agnes on his return.
This latter plan will have the advantage of bringing him
nearer home before the day light fails.
Starting then as early as may be, the visiter will have a
pleasant sail to the Bishop. We will reserve all notice of
the Garrison, St. Agnes, and Annet, until we are able to
examine them more carefully. At a distance about two miles
from Annet Head lies Crebawetlmn ; and almost united with
it towards the West is another islet distinguished by the name
of Little Crebawethan. It was upon these rocks that the
Douro was wrecked on the 28th of January, 1843, and all
her crew perished.
To the North of Crebawethan, where the waves ;nv
34 A WEEK IN THE
breaking, is the Gunner; and, yet further in the same direc-
tion, the Nundeeps, rocks which make the passage through
Broad Sound hazardous to those who are inexperienced in
these seas. On the 21st of November in the same year in
which the Douro was lost, a Schooner from Smyrna, bound
to London, struck upon the Gunner. She became a total
wreck. The vessel and cargo were all lost. The crew took
to their boat; and, through God's mercy, safely reached
the shores of Bryher in the night.
There is no danger in approaching the Bishop after you
have passed between Crebawethan and Round Rock which
lies a little to the North West ; though unless the weather
is very fine and calm, it will be a matter of great difficulty
and of some risk to land upon it. The intended position of
the Light-House is certainly as picturesque as it is perilous
When this work was nearly ready for the press, a great
and most unexpected disaster happened, which may, in the
judgment of some, seem to call for a revision and amend-
ment of this excursion. During a very severe gale between
eleven, p. m., of the fifth, and three, a. m., of the sixth of
February, the Light-House was swept from the rock. It
appears that the cast iron pillars on which the Light was to
have been placed were broken by the combined force of the
wind and the water.
I have not, however, deemed it necessary to withdraw the
notice of the works which had so nearly reached completion ;
nor the pretty view which forms the frontispiece. Many
tourists will, I have little doubt, be the more anxious to visit
ISLES OF SCILLY. 35
a rock, to which something of a romantic interest will
henceforth attach. At all events the view which is here
given will contribute to preserve in remembrance the attempt
which had been made, at no small cost and trouble, to afford
security to vessels navigating these seas. The drawing of
Lady Sophia Tower, made partly from the engraving which
appeared in the Illustrated London News of November
24th, 1849, and partly from her Ladyship's own sketch,
represents the Light-House exactly as it was left by Mr.
Douglas in the autumn of 1849; and, consequently, "as it
appeared previous to its total destruction in the terrific
storm" of February. It was, in fact, completed as far as
the Lanthorn, which would have formed the roof of the
house designed for the Light-keepers. Since the gale the
rock has been minutely examined. It is entirely sound and
unshaken; no rent, nor seam, nor any flaw is discernible
The following description taken from the Newspaper
before alluded to, will, it has been thought, be generally
read with interest. "The works are carried on by Mr.
Douglas for the Honourable Corporation of Trinity House,
under the superintendence of Messrs. Walker and Burges,
the eminent engineers. The Light-House is formed of cast-
iron columns, braced and stayed with wrought-iron rods.
The columns are sunk into the rock, and the ingress to the
Ijiiht is by the interior of the centre column to the hopper,
over which, and under the gallery, are the living-room,
store, &c.. It is upwards of 120 feet high, and twenty feet
higher than the far-famed Kddystone, and is peculiarly
36 A WEEK IN THE
adapted (notwithstanding its apparent lightness) to with-
stand the heavy seas which fall in at that point, as from its
construction the sea passes through without taking any hold
in comparison as it does when meeting the solid body. It is
likewise well placed, inasmuch as the light can be seen about
thirty miles, thereby giving the homeward-bound vessels a
good offing so as to enable them to run up the English or
Bristol Channels, as circumstances may require; thus
affording a great advantage over the St. Agnes Light,
which, being so much nearer the main land, renders the
approach in bad weather much more dangerous. The centre
column is about three feet, six inches diameter, and the
entrance door is about eight feet above the levelled part of
the rock. The view, here given, is taken at low water, and
at high water the rock is covered to within two feet of the
foot of the centre column. The rock is situated about eight
or ten miles Westward of the Land's End." The last
sentence in this account, it is unnecessary to inform those
who are acquainted with the geography of the Isles, is
obviously incorrect. The Bishop is about thirty two miles
from the Land's End, and lies West South West from it.
At a distance of one mile and a half from the Bishop, in
a Northerly direction, are the Grim Rocks. They lie a very
little more to the West ; and it is to be hoped, that if ever a
Light is placed upon the Bishop, it will give sufficient notice
of the presence of danger, to secure vessels coming in that
direction from striking upon them. Several have, it is well
known, been wrecked upon these out-lying rocks; and the
boon therefore, will be the greater, of having a warning
ISLES OF SCILLY. 37
Light placed as near to them as possible.
From the Bishop you must direct your boat towards
Kosevear; noting as you sail along, the ledges and shoals
and rocks which abound in these seas, and which have made
the Isles of Scilly an object of so great terror. When you
survey the network of rocks by which you are surrounded,
and remember that there are many, partially or altogether
hidden from view, which would prove fatal to any vessel
driven on them, you will not wonder at the dread which so
universally prevails, and the anxiety of all seamen to give
Scilly a wide berth. Your best course will be to sail
Eastwards to Crebawethan, so far returning in the track you
came. The swell of the Western sea makes it difficult and
hazardous to sail towards the South of Kosevear from the
Bishop. As soon as you have passed Crebawethan, you
must steer South-South East. You will soon see Jacky's
Rock, memorable for the wreck of "The Thames" Steamer,
on the morning of the fourth of January, 1841, when on
her passage from Dublin to London. The weather at the
time was most unfavourable to any attempt to render
assistance. When the calamity was discovered by the
pilots on St. Agnes, the wind was blowing North West to
North-North-East, with heavy storms of hail and rain
mingled with snow. It was, therefore, impossible to afford
any effectual aid; and out of sixty-five persons only four
were saved. Such recollections give a strange and melan-
choly interest to the scene around you, and suggest reflections
which no thoughtful mind would desire to banish. The
records kept at the Light-House on St. Agnes, to which
38 A WEEK IN THE
I have had access through the kindness of the Agent for
the Trinity House, preserve the remembrance of other
shipwrecks on these dangerous rocks, not perhaps so awfully
fatal but accompanied with great loss of life ; while many,
oh ! how many, of whom we have never heard, have through
ignorance or carelessness "sunk as lead in the mighty
waters." We hail with joy and gratitude every well-con-
sidered attempt to make this navigation more safe ; and the
very rocks are eloquent in bidding us to live as we would
\\i-h to die, in urging us to "prepare to meet our God."
The long reef of rocks at your side is called " The Ponds."
Uosevear is still to the South, separated from The Ponds by
a channel called Santaspery Neck. Upon a rock close by
this Xeck, a schooner belonging to Plymouth and laden with
wheat, struck on the 27th of March, 1849. She became a
total wreck ; but the crew were happily saved and brought
on shore by some of the intrepid inhabitants of St. Agnes.
From Rosevear you will be glad to survey at leisure the isles
and rocks in the midst of which it stands. On it were
erected the temporary dwellings of the workmen engaged in
building the Light-House on the Bishop, which are still
standing. You will be repaid for the trouble of walking
and scrambling over Rosevear by a nearer view of the
masses of rock which lie around you, and which the waters
of the great western ocean are continually chafing.
The Dutch barque, "Nubicto," on her passage from
Batavia to Rotterdam, struck upon one of the sunken rocks
to the South West of Rosevear, on the 21st of February,
1844. She was totally wrecked ; and two only of the crew
ISLES OF SCILLY. 39
escaped. Their preservation was remarkable. They con-
trived to reach Rosevear, where they passed many hours in
a state of fearful anxiety and suspense. The weather was
very thick and hazy; and their signals of distress were
unnoticed. Providentially, on the following day they were
discovered, and released from their dismal situation. It is
but right to add, that their melancholy case awakened the
sympathies of the Islanders, and elicited substantial acts of
kindness, which the gratitude of the sufferers well repaid.
Close to Rosevear towards the South, is Rosevean, and at
some little distance South West, the Gilstone, on which Sir
Cloudesley Shovel was wrecked on the 22nd of October,
1707. "Returning from Toulon in company with many
other ships of war, in which were several distinguished per-
sonages, he came into soundings on the morning of the 22nd
of October, 1707, and found his ship in nineteen fathoms
of water. The weather at this time was thick and foggy,
and the wind blowing strong; which, with the supposition
that they were nearing the land, induced him to make signal
for the fleet to lay to. At six in the evening the admiral
made sail again, and was followed by the rest of his fleet.
This had scarcely been done before he hoisted signals of
danger, which were repeated by several other ships, as a
\\ .lining to those at a distance to keep off to sea. Sir George
Byng, in the Royal Anne, who was at this time about half
a mile to windward of him, saw the breakers, and soon after-
wards the rocks. His safety depended on the energies of
a moment; for so near was his ship to a dangerous rock
called the Trenemer, as to have it under his main chains,
A WEEK IN THE
and as the ship passed, it knocked off the larboard quarter
gallery, but happily he escaped without sustaining any furtb
"About eight o'clock at night, the admiral's ship, t
Association, struck upon the Oilstone with so much violence,
that in about two minutes the vessel went down, and every
soul on board, but one, perished. This man saved himself
on a piece of timber, which floated to a rock called the
Hellweathers, where he was compelled to remain some days,
before he could receive any assistance. Besides the Asso-
ciation, the Eagle of 70 guns, Capt. Hancock, and the
Romney of 50 guns, Capt. Cory, perished with all their
crews. The Firebrand fire-ship was also lost, but Capt.
Percy who commanded her, and most of his men were
saved. The Phrenix fireship, Capt. Hansom, ran on shore,
but was afterwards got off. The St. George, commanded
by Lord Dursley, seems to have escaped miraculously. She
struck on the same rocks with the admiral, but the very
same wave that beat out the lights of the Association, lifted
the St. George from the rocks, and set her afloat again.
" Besides the admiral, there perished on this occasion,
Capt. Lodes of the Association, Sir John Narborough and
his brother James, sons of Lady Shovel by a former husband ;
Mr. Trelawney, eldest son to the Bishop of Winchester, and
about 2000 men."*
When you have sufficiently explored these Western Rocks,
reposing now so tranquilly on the surface of the deep, but
in the winter wild of storm and tempest so full of threatening
ISLES OF SCILLY. 41
and dismay to the fearful mariner, you must direct your
course towards Annet. The isle to the East of Rosevean
is Gorn-^un, and between the two, are high rocks called
the Hags. A single rock lies within Gorregan, named
the Biggal. North East from Gorregan is Meledgan;*
and between this and Annet, are an almost countless multi-
tude of rocks, which may well make you anxious to
muM^r the services of a trusty pilot, who from his boyhood
has been conversant with these perilous waters.
Sailing by the reef of rocks called Hellwethers, and land-
ing on the South East point of Annet, you should direct
your steps towards the North Western extremity of the isle,
called Annet Head. Here the rocks are of a fine, pictur-
esque character ; and you will be the more pleased to examine
them, as they form so prominent a feature in the view from
the other isles.
In the histories of Troutbeck and Woodley, mention is
made of a " singular chasm " in the North East extremity
of Annet, called Lake Anthown, which the tourist will not
therefore wish to pass unnoticed. Woodley describes it as
" about forty yards long, from three to four wide, and seven
deep as far as has been traced." Troutbeck speaks of it
as " about forty yards long, near ten feet wide, and about
* To give the reader some idea of the dangers caused to navigation by
the presence of these rocks, I have mentioned two or three vessels, which
are known to have been wrecked upon them. On the llth of February,
1*1'2, such a calamity happened on or near Meledgan. At daylight the
top-Lrallant mast of a brig appeared above water, a little inside this Isle.
She proved to be the " William Proben," of South Shields, laden with
wheat, und it is supposed that she struck on one of the Southernmost rocks.
No exact information could be gained on this subject, as, alas ! all the
42 A WEEK IN THE
twenty feet deep." He adds that it " is supposed to have
been an old iron mine, because the rocks here have the
appearance of iron ore." The visiter, who expects from this
description to see anything remarkable at this place, will be
disappointed. There is, certainly, no sufficient evidence that
it was ever worked as a mine. Annet is not inhabited. It
contains about forty acres, which afford some tolerable
pasturage for a few head of cattle. From this island you
will gain a closer view of the Great Smith, a remarkably
fine rock, lifting as it were its head out of the deep waters.
It is especially bold on the Western side, and serves as a
mark for different places, chiefly perhaps for the North-
West passage of the Broad Sound. That rock to the South-
East is the Little Smith.
From Annet the distance is but short across Smith's Sound
to St. Agnes. You will land at Priglis Bay, near the Church,
which, as I conceive has given its name to the bay. It is
not unlikely, that Priglis is derived from Port Eglise, or
Portus Ecclesiae; and in more senses surely than one is the
name appropriate. Not a few, who have been wrecked upon
the rocks which you have been exploring, and whose bodies
have been afterwards recovered, lie in this humble church yard ;
and many, we may hope, have visited the church, to present
their offerings of praise to Him, who has preserved their life
from destruction, in the midst of the foaming billows.
Troutbeck and Woodley call this rocky inlet Pericles Bay,
and the latter adds " this denomination of itself, would go far
to settle the point of the original commerce of the Island.
At present however, this bay is generally known by the name
ISLES OF SCILLY. 43
of Forth Nicholas, or the still more barbarous, though not
equally distant, corruption of Prigless. " In the map the
more elegant, and I have no doubt the more correct designa-
tion Priglis is adopted; and by this name I have always
heard the bay called. In the fields behind this bay some
urns or pots have, in digging the earth, been discovered.
In Drew's history of Cornwall there is a singular account
of the origin of this church, which deserves to be mentioned.
"In the year 1685" he says "a French Vessel struck
upon the rocks, and being found without any one on board
by the inhabitants of St. Agnes who repaired immediately
to her assistance, she was taken possession of, and with
some exertion conducted to St. Mary's Here she was
claimed by the captain, who with the rest of his crew had
safely arrived thither in their boats. For saving this vessel
the islanders received a considerable sum, and being at that
time without any place of worship they agreed, with a
unanimity that did honour to their piety, to appropriate the
money to the building of a church, which was accordingly
done." The present church is of very recent date, having
been built rather more than forty years. The church, which
stood previously at the North West corner of the burial
around, was of much smaller extent; and that, in which
divine service was at a yet earlier period performed, was
built on the site of the cottages which are on the South
West side of the church yard.
Keeping at the back of the church and near the i-ea,
you will be able to make your way with little ditlieulty
round this part of the island. The nicks which form the
44 A WEEK IN THE
cliff are very picturesque and beautiful. As you approach
Camberdril point you will be struck with their size and
peculiar character. Different in this respect from most of
the groups in Scilly, they shoot up into sharp points ; and as
you can approach them on all sides they seem to invite a
minute and careful examination.
The high earn which next presents itself is Castlebean ;
and from it you will quickly reach St. Warna Bay, of which
the legend is, that it derives its name from a saint who
landed at this spot from Ireland. "The ancient inhabitants
of this island," says Troutbeck, " used to invoke St. Warna
as their benefactress in times of distress, whom they sup-
posed to be instrumental in sending wrecks and in directing
and presiding over their good fortune. St. Warna's Well is
now filled up, lest the cattle or sheep should push one another
into it when they came to drink. " ! ! This account there is
every reason to believe, is purely fabulous. The famed wi-ll
is now at least a mere hole ; and it admits of a question,
notwithstanding this tradition, whether it was ever any thing
Near this bay upon somewhat higher ground is a curious
rock, called the Nag's Head. Pursuing your way at this
Southern side of St Agnes you will pass in succession
fine promontories of rock jutting out into the sea, and warm,
sunny coves or bays. Each of these beautiful earns, which
gird the island, has its particular designation : but it would
be wearisome and useless to enquire names, forgotten as
soon as heard. Many of them are given in the map from
which the orthography of names and places in this book is
ISLES OF SCILLY.
taken. You must not fail, however, to see the Punch Bowl,
a curious rock on the Wingletang Downs, to the South East
of the Light House. This rock Woodley supposes to be
the Logan-stone on St. Agnes described by Borlase ; and of
which he says that " its oscillatory powers might probably
be easily restored." The reader may be pleased to have an
opportunity of reading the passage from Borlase's Antiquities
of Cornwall which refers to this rock.
" There is a very remarkable Stone of this kind on the
Island of St. Agnes in Scilly. The under rock is ten foot
six high, 47 feet in circumference round the middle, and
touches the ground with no more than half its base. The
upper Rock rests on one point only, so nice, that two or
three men, with a Pole, can move it ; it is eight feet six high,
and 47 in girt. On the top is a large Basin, three feet 1 1
in diameter, (at a medium) at the brim wider, and three foot
deep : by the globular shape of this upper Stone, I guess
that it has been rounded by art at least, if it was not plac'd
on the hollow surface of the rock it rests upon by human
force, which to me appears not unlikely."
The deep bay on the Southern side of St. Agnes, whose
waters at spring tides mingle with those of the Western
Ocean flowing into Perconger, over the bar of sand which
separates the Gugh from the main land of St. Agnes, is
called the Cove. It affords a most happy and convenient
place for the islanders to obtain supplies of fish.
The inhabitants of the dillerent Isles (\\ith the exception
of those on St. Martin's and Treseo, who draw their nets
haul the rove, as the phrnse is, in turn; audit
46 A WEEK IN THE
usuully fulls to the lot of each isle to haul twice in the
course of the season. Not unfrequently a very large quantity
of fish, between eighty and one hundred and forty baskets
is secured in a single night, each basket containing, on an
average, three hundred fish. The store, thus gathered from
the deep, forms a main article of provisions for the winter.
Crossing the bar of sand the tourist should find time for a
walk on the Gugh. Borlase tells us that the Gugh is " a
part of Agnes, and never divided from it, but by high and
boisterous tides." This statement is not, now at least, entirely
correct. The Gugh is always an island at spring tides, when
there is a depth of water on the bar, sufficient for a boat to
shoot across it.
Sentinel at the North-West of the Gugh stands the Kittern,
a fine picturesque rock, well worthy of notice. At the distance
of about a quarter of a mile East by South of the Kittern
is the Bow. The South Eastern point of land is called on
the chart Dropnose Point, from a rock which bears that name
at a small distance from the shore ; and near to this, East-
wards, is another with equal propriety called Wetnose.
There are several barrows upon the Gugh. At the North
West extremity the visitor will see one between thirteen and
fourteen feet long, four feet broad and between two and
three feet high. This lies on nearly the highest point of that
part of the Gugh, just, at the back, so to speak, of the
Two more of these burial places may be discovered on the
highest points of laud towards the South East. They are
not so large as the former; nor have they so distinctly the
ISLES OF SCILLY. 47
marks of tombs, being nearly filled with soil and rubbish.
Still further in the same direction are two other barrows ;
one in that heap of rocks which is called The Works. The
origin of this name I cannot definitely ascertain. In the
opinion of some it is derived from fortifications which, it
has been said, once stood here ; but the judgment of practical
men is against this supposition, as it seems impossible they
could have been used for artillery.
The other barrow lies on the high ground between The
Works and the South West extremity of the Gugh. The
latter is clearly seen from The Works and is not at a greater
distance from them than fifty or sixty yards. This the more
Southern barrow is between fourteen and fifteen feet in
length, four feet six inches in breadth, and one foot six
inches in depth. This barrow has four top or covering stones.
Nearly in the centre of the Gugh is one of those pillar-
stones of which I have taken more especial notice in the
Sixth Excursion and in the Supplemental Chapter. This
stone, which is called by the Islanders 'the old man
cutting turf is nine feet in length and seven feet in girth.
Unlike in this respect to those on St. Mary's, which stand
quite erect, its inclination is so great that the top of it is
not more than six feet and a half in perpendicular height
from the ground. For whatever purpose it may have
been originally placed, it is now used as a mark by the pilots
for bringing vessels safely into The Road or Harbour, free
of the Spanish ledges, a dangerous reef at the South Eastern
entrance of St. Mary's Sound.
By this time the day will be well nigh spent, and the
4S A WEEK IX THE
visitor will scarcely reach his boat, which has been brought
round from Priglis to Perconger, before the sun sinks below
the horizon. If, however, the cove is to be hauled at dark,
he may be induced to prolong his stay at St. Agnes until
midnight ; and the hour or two, which will elapse before the
nets are drawn, may be well employed in a visit to the Light-
House. It is a revolving light: and the bright silver
reflectors, the excellent order and the careful superintendence
of the whole establishment; the abundant supplies of all
that is necessary to ensure a steady, equable light, give proof
of the zeal and liberality with which the Trinity brethren
have discharged the important duties confided to their trust.
From the top of the Light House, as you may imagine, you
would have in the day light a far extending view of this
When the hour fixed for hauling has arrived, you must
take up your position on the bar of sand which you crossed
to visit the Gugh. The net, which had been spread at the
further extremity of the cove is gradually drawn to the
shore, and its contents will be deposited upon the sand.
The scene is altogether striking. The multitude of fishes
bounding on the ground, the dimly burning lanthorns
moving here and there, the darkness of the night, for the
moon has not yet risen ; the soft murmur of the waters and
the noisy splashing of the fish, concur to make this midnight
ursion novel and interesting. The fish taken are princi-
pally scads ; though not unfrequently you may be fortunate
enough to get some red mullet, a salmon peel or other
ISLES OF SCILLY. 49
The population of St. Agnes consists of fifty four families,
comprising two hundred and sixty individuals. Of them
not fewer than fifty are generally absent at sea.
IT is proposed in to-day's excursion to explore the Eastern
Isles and St. Martin's. Sailing from the pier in a Northerly
course the first point which invites the tourist's attention is
Cam Morval, forming the North-East boundary of St.
Mary's Pool or Harbour. This fine, bold mass of rocks is,
perhaps, seen to greatest advantage from the water ; though,
when an opportunity offers of examining it more leisurely on
the land, the visiter will be well repaid for the trouble.
Troutbeck says that " on the East and South sides of Carn
Morval are the remains of some old batteries." Of these,
however, there is at present no trace.
When we have passed this point there is not much which
calls for notice on the Northern coast of St. Mary's. The
low reef of rocks which obliges the boat to keep at some
distance from the shore is called the Creeb ; and the South
Western point of Pcndrathen Bay which we presently reach
is Bant's Carn. Thence sailing by the Crow Rock, we must
shape our course in an Easterly direction across the Sound.
52 A WEEK IN THE
The first appearance of this Eastern group of isles is very
pleasing. Their peculiar beauty has elicited the admiration
of all who would describe the scenery of the islands.
"These Islets and Rocks" says Borlase, "edge this
Sound in an extremely pretty, and very different manner
from any thing I had seen before. The sides of these little
Islands continue their greenness to the brim of the water,
where they are either surrounded by rocks of different
shapes, which start up here and there as you advance,
like so many enchanted castles, or by a verge of sand of the
brightest colour. The sea, having eaten away passages
between these hillocks, forms several pretty pools and lakes,
and the crags which kept their stations, look so broken,
intercepted, and so numerous, that the whole seemed but
one large grotesque piece of rock-work."
The most convenient landing on Little Ganinick, the more
Southerly of the two islets which lie to the Westward of this
" little archipelago" * is upon the Eastern side. This island,
which contains between three and four acres, is at low water
connected with Great Ganinick by a reef of rocks, so that
you may easily pass from the one to the other ; but at high
water there is between these isles a channel, seven feet, if not
more, in depth. If, therefore, you wish to visit both, you
will probably be obliged to have recourse to your boat. In
that case you will find a suitable place for landing at the
North East end of Great Ganinick, the area of which is
about five acres. There is not however, except in the view
which it offers of the adjoining islands, anything to repay
ISLES OF SCILLY. 53
you for your trouble. The isles are covered with long thick
Little Arthur, which with Great Arthur contains from
fifteen to twenty acres, next invites the visitor's attention.
There is a convenient landing between the two, in a bay of
sand. These isles may be properly considered as one; for it
is only at high tides that the water washes over the stones
which separate Great from Little Arthur; and at these times
the waves flow also over the ridge of rocks which unites the
Northern to the Southern extremity of Great Arthur: so that,
in fact, this isle is at very high tides broken up into three
islets, called Great, Middle, and Little Arthur.
In Woodley's history we read, "On a very commanding
eminence on Great Arthur, is a cromlech and sepulchral
cave, in very good order. The walls of this cave consist of
large flat stones, laid with their edges smooth; and there are
two very large stones laid flat at the head of the grave,
which appears to have been opened. It is about twelve feet
long, four feet deep, and five feet and a half wide; and is sur-
rounded by an artificial mound, about forty yards in circum-
ference. At a little distance are two other barrows." On
this isle are to be seen "the remains of ancient hedges and
other vestiges of cultivation."
" Little Arthur has also three ancient burial places, one of
which is large and square, like a family vault." If a visiter
takes the pains to compare this account with his own
observations, he will find it substantially correct. The
barrow on the Eastern eminence of Great Arthur, is a very
large burial place; and the proportions here given are, I
54 A WEEK IN THE
doubt not, accurate. Immediately on landing at that part
of the isle which is commonly called Middle Arthur, the
ruins of a barrow are evident, with four covering stones.
Near it is another, with only the head and foot stone.
Besides these, as Woodley intimates, several others may be
more or less distinctly traced.
There are also, the ruins of two small houses, which were
the temporary accommodations of parties who resorted to
this convenient place for the purpose of burning Kelp.
At the North East side of Little Arthur, is a large flat
rock, called Arthur's Table.
On Little Ganilly, which comprises about six acres, the
visiter may land at either end, according to the wind.
He will next reach an islet of singular shape, the surface
of which is very rough and uneven; whence its name of
Ragged Island. It contains perhaps an acre and a half.
The appearance of Great Ganilly, to which he should then
direct his boat, is very pleasing. Its highest ground cannot
be less than one hundred feet above the sea, being pretty
nearly on a level with the highest point of St. Helen's, which
lies between St. Martin's and Tresco. This is the largest of
these Eastern Isles, containing not less than sixteen acres ;
according to Woodley, twenty. The best place for landing
is on the West side, towards the Southern end of it. From
the higher points of land the visiter will have, if the day be
fine, a very good view of the " Seven Stones," which he will
at once discover by the line of white foam, caused by the
breaking of the sea upon these rocks. The Reef so called
lies somewhat less than three leagues from the Islands. It
ISLES OF SCILLY. 55
extends about one mile from North-North- West to South-
South-East, and is perhaps the same distance in breadth.
" These rocks can hardly be said to belong to, or to con-
stitute a part of Scilly, yet they are frequently visited by the
Islanders, on account of the quantities of large fish which
abound near them." * The two points of rock at the
extremities of this dangerous reef, shewing themselves at
half-tide only, are the Pollard to the North and the South
Stone. In the Pollard two rings have been fixed, for the
use of those who may wish to land upon the rock.
The Light Ship was moored in August, 1841, about two
miles to the East of the Seven Stones ; and she at present
rides in very nearly this position.
We will next visit Menewethan which lies to the South
West of Great Ganilly ; and if you are disposed for a good
scramble you may land on its Western side ; but the best
view, perhaps, of this fine mass of rocks is from the water.
This Island contains from four to five acres, and its highest
point is eighty-seven feet above mean water.
The Isles to the North of Menewethan are Great Inisvouls,
and Little Inisvouls. The larger of these contains about two
acres, the smaller, one ; and at low water the two are united.
Between these Isles the Inhabitants of St. Martin's and of
Tresco haul for their winter stock of fish. They shoot out
five coils of line, each containing twenty fathoms, in an
Easterly direction towards Hanjague ; and having drawn the
seine to the shore they " tuck up " the fish into their boats,
and return homewards, where they divide their spoil.
56 A WEEK IN THE
You may pass from Great Inisvouls to Great Ganilly over
an isthmus of rock, when the tide has ebbed four hours ; and
from this islet you will have a pleasant sail to Hanjague,
which from its conical shape, is commonly called the Sugar
Loaf. If the sea is quite calm, you may land on that side of
this bold rock, where the water is smoothest ; though this can
rarely be accomplished. You will, however, be glad to have
as close a view as possible of a rock, which is so conspicuous
a feature in the scene ; and to which, perhaps, your attention
was first drawn as you approached the Islands. Hanjague
is eighty-three feet in height, and the water around it is
twenty-five fathoms deep.
Between Inisvouls and Hanjague we pass the Mouls, "which
always presents three pointed rocks considerably above the
surface of the water;"* and is not, therefore, dangerous.
From Hanjague the visiter should sail to Nornor. The origin
of this name is easily discovered; as Nornor lies most to the
North of all this Eastern group, with the exception of
Hanjague. Nornor is distinguished by three points of rock,
of which the Western is the highest ; and contains about
three acres. The easiest place for landing is on the Southern
side ; though it will, of course, occur to the reader that in
attempting to land on this or any other Isle exposed to the
swell of the ocean, care must be taken to choose the side of
the Isle or Rock most sheltered from the wind. If the wind
is Southerly you must try the Northern side ; if the wind
blows from the North you must make your approach from
ISLES OF SCILLY. 57
From Nornor we will direct our course to St. Martin's, a
long island, correctly described by Troutbeck as "about two
miles long and about six miles round, a narrow ridge of high
land." It is narrower in the middle than at its extremities,
but its average breadth is three quarters of a mile."* Trout-
beck says " It seems to have been entirely cultivated in
former times ; as the tracks of hedges may be seen crossing
the ridge and descending to the sea on either hand, but it is
now improper for cultivation, being in many places overrun
with sand and the soil quite buried." In this opinion
Woodley coincides, and few persons will, I think, be inclined
to differ from them. It is, however, difficult to reconcile
this statement with that made by Troutbeck in the very next
sentence. Speaking of this isle he says, " about one hun-
dred and sixty years ago it had not one inhabitant ; " and
again, at the close of his account of St. Martin's, " about a
century ago there were not above three or four families upon
this island." There is, however, much in the appearance of
this and the other islands to strengthen the opinion, that in
ages long since past, this part of England was populous and
cultivated. By whom and in what age this and the other
Isles were at first peopled, and from what causes that
population became extinct : whether the present inhabitants
of St. Martin's are the descendants of those whom Mr.
Thomas Ekins, "the first steward that resided upon the
islands, since they were granted to the Godolphin family"
and who " encouraged people to settle here to cultivate the
land : " f These are questions which more properly belong
* Woodley. t Troutbeck.
58 A WEEK IN THE
to the antiquarian, and will scarcely engage the attention of
the tourist. " There are at present" Troutbeck writes, that
is, during his chaplaincy, " upwards of thirty families and
about one hundred and eighty inhabitants, who are all
related to each other." Speaking of his own period of
residence Woodley says "At present there are more than
fifty families on the island ; " and in another place, " It
contains sixty houses and two hundred and eighty inha-
bitants." Its present population consists of fifty one families
comprising two hundred and ten individuals.
Woodley confirms the statement made by Troutbeck that
St. Martin's " affords good pasture as well as plentiful crops
of corn and potatoes." The opinion which I have heard
generally expressed by the residents on this isle, is, that the
pasturage is tolerably good ; though, as the ground is but
shallow and the bottom rocky, St. Martin's suffers much
from drought. In its reputation for potatoes it still, I think,
holds the pre-eminence ; but the soil of all the islands is
most favourable to the cultivation of this vegetable.
The inhabitants reside in three portions of the isle,
severally called Higher, Middle, and Lower Town. Of
these Higher Town is in every respect the most considerable.
Its site is more eligible than that of the other two, as it is
built on the high ground at the Southern extremity. The
Church, of which Troutbeck gives a curious and minute
account, stands a little to the North of the principal houses
in Higher Town. " There is no account" he says " when
this church was originally built. The dead have been
interred in its cemetery some centuries ago, as appears from
ISLES OF SCILLY.
the plenty of bones found when graves are digged."
It is greatly to be regretted that there are no means of
placing a clergyman on this isle; and consequently the
church can be opened for divine service, only during the
summer months ; and then very occasionally. To a stranger,
unacquainted with the peculiar wants of the Isles, it would
seem that three clergymen, the present number, are abun-
dantly sufficient for the work of the ministry among a
population which does not reach three thousand. But a
very little experience of these seas affords convincing proof
that the only Isles which can be effectually superintended by
one pastor are Tresco and Bryher. For each of the other
three churches a clergyman is absolutely necessary, if the
offices of divine service are to be regularly performed in
them. St. Agnes must from its position be a sole charge ;
and St. Martin's can be visited by the chaplain, only in fair
weather. The funds available for such purposes are inade-
quate for the maintenance of a fourth minister, who should
have St. Martin's as his especial care ; nor dare we look for
a »i stance from other sources, so long as the demand for
succour from far more populous places is still unsupplied.
On this, as on the three other principal islands, there is an
Infant School as well as one for the elder children.
We will now enter upon an examination of the principal
points of interest in this isle. The visitor should land in
IN i pitch Bay, to the West of Carniweathers. Directing his
course to the higher ground on which the houses are built,
he will find a very pleasant walk nloni; the Eastern extremity
of the isle to the Day-mark. This walk is the more inviting
60 A WEEK IN THE
from the distinct view which it affords of the pretty isles
you have just explored.
The fine, bold, precipitous mass of rock at the most
Northerly point of the East end of St. Martin's is ac-
cording to the calculations which have recently been made,
about one hundred and sixty feet in height, as Woodley
also has computed. On the summit of this rocky head-
land is the Day-mark ; which, according to Troutbeck, is
forty feet in height; according to Woodley, twenty.
The mean, probably, between these two extremes would
be more exact. It is somewhat above thirty feet high;
and, as perhaps you observed on your first approach
to the islands, " is visible at a distance of many leagues."
During the last war a house was built near the Day-mark,
for the use of the officer who had charge of the telegraph
erected on this spot. When peace was proclaimed this
house was to a great extent demolished by the islanders ;
not, so far as I can learn, by any competent authority ; but,
forsooth, in the exuberance of their joy, or from the selfish
motive of turning its materials to more profitable account.
Of the use and benefit of this signal station, some
interesting records are furnished by the older inhabitants of
the Isles. On one occasion, I have been informed, a boat
belonging to St. Mary's put off to a vessel, with the
intention of offering some fresh fish for sale. She proved
to be a French ship ; and, according to the rules of war, the
English boat was sunk, though the crew were received on
board the enemy. Presently a signal was observed at St.
Martin's head, which informed Captain Pellew that a French
ISLES OF SCILLY. 61
vessel was in sight. He immediately gave chase and
brought her to action between the Isles and the Lizard.
After a very destructive engagement, the Frenchman was
captured, and the Islanders who had been sent below
during the fight, were released. The ship was taken
prisoner to Plymouth. In other instances, not a few, the
communications made by the officer, on duty at this station,
proved the means of safety to our merchantmen and ships
The top of the Day-mark is one hundred and ninety
feet ; and hence, this head-land is about one hundred and
sixty feet above mean water.
The description given by Borlase of the Day-mark and
and of St. Martin's generally is, perhaps of sufficient interest
to warrant me in transcribing it.
" At the Eastern end is a very rocky and high promon-
tory called St. Martin's Head, on the top of which the late
Mr. Ekines, a considerable merchant of these Islands built
a round Tower twenty feet high, and a Spire on the top of it
as many feet more, and plaistered it with Lime on the out-
side, that it may be a Day-mark to Ships which fall in with
this dangerous Coast. The Tower is not solid, but hollow,
and over the door is T E,* 1683. There is a stone-stair-case
within, by which people may ascend to the top of the Tower,
whence you have a larger ken than from below, and a fair
view of England. The Church here is larger and better
seated than that of any of the off-islands.
"This Island is a narrow ridge of land, and though fully
* " Th«- Initial Litters of Tiioinas Ekines."
62 A WEEK IN THE
cultivated formerly, had not one inhabitant upon it about
eighty years since, when Mr. Ekines above-mentioned,
observing some parts improveable, encouraged a little Colony
to settle here, and now it has the finest pasture, which we
saw in ail the Islands, produces good Corn, and has betwixt
sixty and seventy inhabitants. There are eighteen families,
all related, have a great opinion of their own Island, are
not willing to admit strangers among them, and think they
cannot live any where so pleasantly and plentifully as in
St. Martin's : Some of them for want of arable land at
home, rent lands in St. Mary's, or some other Island,
and live part of the year there, the more fully to employ
themselves, but as soon as their Crop is got in, and the
business of their little Farm is over, they return to St.
Martin's with pleasure, and look upon that as their home."
Hanjague is due South East from the Day-mark. The
two Chapel rocks and Hardlewis rocks lie East, and East-
South-East from the same point. They are not visible until
We will now begin our survey of the coast. Stretching
to the West of St. Martin's Head is a deep bay, called
Bread and Cheese Cove. The Eastern side of this cove is
Chapel Brow; and the ridge of rocks running from the
high ground to the sea is very bold and picturesque. Loop-
hole Point is the name given by the islanders to the Western
end of this cove ; and the next bay is called Stony Forth.
The promontory which forms the Western side of Stony
Forth is Burnt Hill; a name probably derived from the
appearance of the ground. The outer extremity of this
l-I.KS OF SCILLY. 63
head-land is at high spring tides separated from the main
land of St. Martin's and bears the name of Rat Island.
Opposite Burnt Hill towards the North "is a large rock
called the Murr from a sea-bird of that name by which it is
frequented." * This may have been the case in Mr.Woodley's
time ; but I cannot learn that it ever was, and most certainly
it is not now frequented by this or by any other sea-bird.
A little to the West is Culver Hole of which both
Troutbeck and Woodley give a precise account. There is
however no evidence of its having been a " tin- work" or any
thing but a natural excavation ; and the curious arch at the
entrance of the hole or cavern, which will probably be swept
away, ere long, by the encroaching tide, was, there can be
little doubt, formed by the falling away of the earth around
it. At the distance of only a few yards to the West is
another recess in the cliff of very similar appearance to
The head-land lying still more to the West is called " Turfy
1 1 ill. "-f- The origin of this name, it is probable, maybe
found in the quantity of turf which has been cut in this
part of the island.
Bull's Forth, above which are some fine rocks ; is the name
given to the bay between Burnt Hill and Turfy Hill. The
rocks which lie off this part of the isle, at some little distance
in the sea, make it very dangerous to approach. To the
West-North- West of Murr Hock is Sandy's ledge, Mackerel
li<>rk and Merrick Ledge.
From Turfy Hill the bay, which bears the name of the
• Woodley. t Troutbeck.
64 A WEEK IN THE
island, stretches to the North West. St. Martin's Bay is
half a mile in length, and is crowned by good sands. On
the Eastern side of it are three mounds of earth, of consid-
erable size, which are called by the inhabitants the French-
men's Graves: a name probably derived from the wreck
upon these rocks of some vessel belonging to France. The
bodies, it is not unlikely, of the crew were deposited in these
sands. Forming the Western side of this bay, and nearly
the extreme point to the North of St. Martin's " is a high
earn, called Top Rock, which was split with thunder on
November 20th, 1751."
So at least says Troutbeck who gives a full and marvellous
account of this disaster.
Due North of this Cam is White Island to which the
visiter may pass on foot at low water. This Isle contains
by estimation fifty acres, * and is chiefly remarkable for a
deep cavern situated nearly in the middle of its eastern side.
Into this cavern it is possible to enter only at low tides ;
and those who have examined it, say you can penetrate
twenty or thirty fathoms without reaching the end of it. It
is supposed to have been an old tin-work, its direction is East
and West."t There is a rock on the surface of the ground,
which, in the opinion of some of the Islanders, marks the
extreme distance to which you can go under the ground.
Woodley's description of this cavern represents it as a
place of gloom and terror: "the rocks within — above —
around — all black as night ; " with much more to the same
effect, which (to borrow his own expression) " surpasses
* Troutbeck who is copied by Woodley. t Troutbeck.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 65
hyperbole." Off the North Western end of St. Martin's
and due West of White Island is Pernagic Isle, to which as
well as to Plumb Isle, lying to the South and nearer St.
Martin's, you can walk dry-shod, when the tide has ebbed
two hours. Pernagic Isle is not far distant from the Lion
Rock, which, at low tides, you may also reach on foot.
On the dangerous brow of rocks which connects Lion
Rock with Pernagic Isle, a vessel called the "Palinurus"
was wrecked on the 27th of December, 1848. Seventeen
bodies were recovered ; and on the thirtieth, twelve were
together buried in the church yard of St. Mary's. Two
were subsequently interred near the same spot; and the
other three lie in the church yard of St. Martin's. The
vessel was bound from Demerara to England ; and must,
therefore, from some cause or other have lost her proper
course ; a circumstance which adds to the solemn and
melancholy reflections awakened by this deplorable event.
None survived to give any explanation, or to tell who and
how many had perished.
To the West South West of Lion Rock is Black Rock,
between which and Round Island is the Channel for Vessels
sailing into Old Grimsby Harbour.
The name given by the islanders to the cove between
Pernagic Point and Tinkler's Point, is Pursile Bay. This
latter is nearly the most Western promontory of St. Martin's;
and on it is a rock which bears the same name as the point,
and " which from the singularity of its appearance, is
supposed to have been an object of Druid worship. Near
this are two circles of erect stones, (about sixty feet, each
66 A WEEK IN THE
circle, in circumference,) and an ancient burrow."* A
visiter will have some difficulty in making out these circles,
as " some of the stones have been lately taken away for
building houses near at hand.", f
To the South-by- West is a small hole in the cliff which
gives its name to Goat's Point ; and " close to the shore,
opposite the island of Tean, is a large heap of rocks,
upwards of one hundred feet high, called Bab's Carn, from
a family of that name, who lived close by it." *f- This earn
still retains its name, but the visiter will see that Troutbeck
has somewhat exaggerated its height.
From this point we will direct our course Eastwards,
along the good road, which has been recently made,
connecting the Eastern and Western extremities of this
island, and which may not inappropriately be called " the
mall " of St. Martins.
There is not anything which calls for particular observation
in this pleasant walk.
The prospect from the South Eastern end of the road, in
front of the houses, is very beautiful. The cultivated fields
sloping towards the sea, present either from above or from
below a pleasing appearance of fertility. Cruthers Bay, or,
as it is marked in the map, Higher Town Bay, with its
watch house, and the pilot boats riding at anchor in its calm
waters; Cruthers Hill on your right, stretching out into the
sea and forming the South Western point of the Bay, which
is bounded on the East by English Point Cam; these
several features in the scenery combined with the more
* Woodley. t Troutbeck.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 67
distant objects, which you will now recognize as familiar
friends, present a view of great interest and beauty. Both
Troutbeck and Woodley greatly overstate the height of
Cruthers Hill, which is, probably, not more than sixty feet.
The beach on the Western and Southern sides of St.
Martin's has so very gradual a slope from the shore, that at
low water it is not possible to reach the island even in small
boats. These sands, called St. Martin's flats, are one of the
chief places in the Isles for the collectors of shells, especially
towards their Southern end, between Guthers Isle and
* For much of the information given in this excursion, I am indebted
to Stephen Woodcock, and James Bickibrd, of Higher Town, both civil
and intelligent guides.
THE principal Isle yet remains to be explored; and two days
will scarcely be sufficient for this purpose. Not only is St.
Mary's the largest of the group : but it is the most cultivated ;
and exceeds in the amount of its population all the other
Troutbeck, who was the Chaplain of these Isles from 1780
to 1796, says that in his period of residence, St. Mary's
contained "about two hundred families and near eight hundred
inhabitants." Its present length he adds "is about two
miles and a half, and it may be reckoned betwixt nine and
ten miles in circumference, and contains by estimation about
one thousand, six hundred and forty acres, including the land
within the Garrison." Woodley calculates it to be " about
eight miles in circumference, two miles and a half in length,
and one mile and a half in breadth." The former statement
is the more accurate. St. Mary's is about nine miles in
The population is now nearly double its amount in the time
70 A WEEK IN THE
of Troutbeck, being a little above fifteen hundred, of these
about one thousand live in Hugh Town ; one hundred and
twenty in Old Town, and the remaining number are scattered
over the country.
The contrast between the cottages which have been recently
built, and those which Woodley describes as " presenting the
appearance of a ship's cabin, with the beams and planks
over head painted white," is sufficiently striking. The houses
in Hugh Street are very old, and many of them certainly wear
a somewhat forlorn and dreary aspect ; but as the visiter
advances towards the Church and sees those more recently
built on the Parade and in Buzza Street, towards Porcrasa,
he will be impressed with a widely different feeling. He will
find himself surrounded by houses with every token of
cheerfulness and comfort ; and when he learns that they have
been built by the inhabitants themselves, and are in the majority
of instances held of the Proprietor at a trifling ground rent,
for forty years, he will draw the conclusion, which longer
acquaintance with the place will strengthen and confirm, that
the Isles of Scilly have been favoured with an unusual
measure of prosperity.
The Custom House and the Post Office are in the centre
of Hugh Town, at only a short distance from the Pier. The
Custom House is not that building described by Woodley as
" airy, spacious, and commodious," standing at the back of
the Post Office in Well Lane. That room is now appropriated
to the Infant School ; and in it two mistresses, (themselves
trained, at the expense of the Proprietor, in the Home and
Colonial Infant School Society in London), are carefully and
ISLES OF SCILLY. 71
successfully training between fifty and sixty of the infant
population of St. Mary's. The more suitable and commodious
Custom House in present use has been erected on the very
verge of the sea, at no great distance from the pier ; and is
viable to all the vessels sailing into the Pool. It was built
The town is more considerable than most visiters expect.
There are several shops of some pretension, in which almost
every article of domestic use may generally be obtained.
Within the last few years a great improvement has been
effected in the mode of carrying on business. New shops
have displayed a greater variety and a larger assortment of
goods ; a little wholesome competition has reduced the price
of articles ; and every endeavour is made to meet the wants
and wishes of customers.
Attention to dress prevails as much in this as in other parts
of Cornwall ; and the system of barter or exchange, which is
carried on to a great extent, enables almost all to gratify their
taste in this respect. I have often heard a comparison
suggested by some of the older inhabitants between the
showy, costly dresses of more modern times, and the coarse,
checkered aprons or gowns of former days ; when the
grandsires of the present generation were wont, as my
informant tells me, to ride their palfreys to Church, each
with his gude wife or his daughter before him ; while the
more youthful members of his family came tripping along to
the loved and honoured house of prayer.
The Church then stood in the midst of the fields on the
Southern side of the Isle, near Old Town Bay. A portion of
72 A WEEK IN THE
the Old Church, in which the burial service is very occasion-
ally read, is yet standing ; and in it are one or two mural
tablets and several grave stones with inscriptions upon them.
It is about half a mile distant from Hugh Town, in which
the majority of the inhabitants now reside, and where,
consequently, the present Church stands.*
The burial ground is around the remains of the old Church.
It is the usual practice to carry the corpse into the New
Church, where the former part of the service is read, and
afterwards to deposit it in the ground, which is hallowed by
so many sacred recollections, and in which it may mingle
with the dust of many preceding generations.
The Church, in which divine service is now performed, has
been built on somewhat high ground at the East end of the
main street of St. Mary's, and therefore at the entrance of
Hugh Town as you approach it from the country. A Tablet
within its walls declares that
Year of our Lord,
This Church was erected
By the munificence of
His Majesty King William IV.
The same was completed at the expense of
Augustus Smith, Esq.
* I am unable to discover the origin of the word Hugh, and therefore
acquiesce in the ingenious hypothesis suggested by Mr. Woodley. Huer
in Johnson is " one, whose business it is to call out to others ;" and, in
the passage, quoted in the Dictionary, from Carew's survey, a Huer is
ISLES OF SCILLY. 73
The church is a neat building in the gothic style, with
open seats and a gallery at the West end. Its extreme
simplicity is, perhaps, its chief ornament; and no one can
fail I think to approve the taste which it displays. From
the church to the burial ground is an exceedingly pleasant
walk ; chiefly across some fields with a gentle declivity, so
that the smooth gravel road is always dry. Before you is
a fine sea-view, the waves rolling in upon the bay which
separates the church fields from Old Town and forming a
fine back-ground to the landscape.
These prefatory observations relate to matters of interest
in connexion with St. Mary's, and could hardly be embodied
in what may be termed the geographical survey of the Isle ;
but we propose now to direct the visiter in a minute
examination of its varied and beautiful scenery.
With this object he should bend his s'teps towards Por-
crasa, a fine bay on the Southern side of the island, extending
from the Garrison to Buzza Hill. It is mentioned by
Troutbeck and others under the more pleasing title of Forth
Cressa. By Borlase it is written Forth Crasou.
Following the foot path which tends in a South Easterly
direction from the end of Buzza Street, we shall presently
reach Buzza Hill. On its summit stands the windmill ; and
the view from this eminence will repay the fatigue of the
ascent. The prospect on all sides is as charming as it is
described as one "who standeth on the Cliff-side, and from thence
discerneth the course of the Pilchard." Woodley conjectures that the Hugh
at St. Mary's may derive its name from having been formerly used as an
eligible station by such watchers.
74 A WEEK IN THE
The Church especially is seen to great advantage. Wood-
ley's description of this hill is exaggerated. He says " that
it consists of vast masses or blocks of granite ; here protru-
ding their grey tops above the furze and fern that fringe its
rugged brow and sides ; there, recumbent in every posture
on the smaller rocks which still remain partly imbedded in
the soil, and seeming to threaten the passenger who winds
his way at the base of the hill, with an instantaneous crush
beneath their ponderous and (apparently) ill- supported
bulks." This description partakes of that poetical licence
which Mr. Woodley has, throughout his work, allowed him-
self. Buzza Hill, however, on its Western side presents a
bold, rocky appearance. Scantily clothed with verdure, the
large fragments of stone stand out from the golden blossom
or the green bushes of the furze, and are in good keeping
with the other features in the picture. Its Northern side,
which invites attention in the walk from the town towards
the church, is more in harmony with the fields beneath it,
presenting a green and fertile aspect.
Woodley tells us that " on the top of Buzza Hill* are three
cromlechs." By cromlechs I presume he means barrows ;
and of these I can discern only one. The other two have,
not improbably, been destroyed, either in the erection of the
mill, or in obtaining stone for building purposes. That,
which is still in existence, lies to the South West of the
Wind-mill. Immediately opposite Buzza Hill, on the other
side of Porcrasa is the Garrison with its distinctive features
* By Borlase this Hill is called Bosow Hill ; and be supposes the name
to be derived from a family which once lived near this spot.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 75
of the Star Castle and the officers' quarters which are now
allowed as private dwellings. The ground between the rocky
beach, and the wall encircling the Garrison, is divided into
several allotments of garden, which are let at an almost
nominal rent to the inhabitants. At the South Eastern
extremity of the Garrison, called Morning Point, is a battery
with five guns, to which together with the other means of
defence, I shall more particularly refer in the excursion of
As soon as you have passed the Garrison you will have
a distant prospect of the picturesque rocks at Annet Head,
and the reefs and ledges, indicated by the white line of foam,
which lie scattered in the Broad Sound. Nearer is St.
Agnes with her friendly Light-house, and the fine rocks,
the Kittern and the Bow, of which we have had a closer
Ascending the sloping ground which lies towards the
South, you will enjoy a commanding view of Peninnis
Head, the finest mass of rocks in the Isles. The Cam
midway between Buzza Hill and this bold head-land,
called, I know not why, the Dutchman's Cam, ought not,
however, to be passed without notice. In itself it is
sufficiently picturesque; and from it you may enjoy an
extensive view towards the North West, the West, and the
South. In the former direction, the town of St. Mary's on
its narrow belt of sand, Porcrasa, the masts of vessels in
the Pool, and the yet more distant hills of Bryher; West-
wards, Annet, the Bishop and the multitude of rocks which
lie in that direction ; Southwards, Peninnis, the Gugh, and
76 A WEEK IN THE
St. Agnes ; these different objects will, from this point, arrest
a visitor's attention. Beneath is the Bluff, a fine, bold rock,
not accessible from the shore. It seems to be within the
distance of an easy leap from the coast of St. Mary's ; but
there is between the two a deep channel, which it is scarcely
safe to attempt thus to cross.
Advancing towards the South, your way lies down a slight
declivity to the rocks which we are about to explore ; and
which, as you now more nearly approach them, will be seen
to be of a grand and imposing character. Lying on the
upper ground, at some little distance from the sea, is a
curious group, called the Kettle and Pans. The name is
derived from large cavities or basons in the rocks, capable
of holding a quantity of water.
As these are the most remarkable basons with which I
am acquainted in the Isles, it may be expected that I should
more particularly advert to the opinions which have been
expressed concerning them. Troutbeck has entered most
fully into the question of Druidical remains ; and his
opinions, stated with singular frankness and simplicity, will
furnish the reader with much pleasing entertainment.* Bor-
lase, as is well known to all who are acquainted with his
valuable works, has largely discussed this subject. In the
letter, to which I have already referred,f he says, when
speaking of St. Mary's, "On this Island, as well as on
every other, I found a great number of Rock-basons, by
* See Troutbeck's description of the Scilly Islands, pages 82, 93, and
t Borlase's Letter to the Rer. Charles Lyttlelton, L.L.D, Dean of Exeter,
ISLES OF SCILLY. 77
which it appears, that one and the same superstition with
regard to these Monuments (for they are found generally
in or near places of worship) obtain'd both here and in
Cornwall, and had probably it's first rise in these Islands
and the Continent adjoining, which is the reason that they
are found in both Scilly and Cornwall in greater numbers
than in any part of Britain. My opinion concerning the
use of them you do not want to be informed of, I have
always thought that they were designed to receive and
preserve in their utmost purity the waters of the Heavens
for holy uses ; but in such doubtful cases let every man
think for himself. I shall therefore only give you a descrip-
tion of one place, and the Basons which it contains.
" At Peninnis a quarter of a mile below the new Windmill,
after passing a very stony hill we came to the Knoll of the
Promontory covered with a fair Turf, in several parts of
which are large Karns, and between them a fine verdure
and scarce a stone to be seen. There are many Rock-
basons still here, though the stones have been much cloven
and carried off for building. Their houses, hedges, and
fortifications being all of stone, and the limits being narrow
in such small Islands, have obliged them to borrow much
stone from their Karns, vchich I mention the rather because
you may wonder, perhaps, that these which follow, and the
other Monuments, are so maimed, and not one Cromleh (of
which sort I doubt not there were many here formerly) to be
found ; but to return,
"On one Rock we saw fifteen Basons, some the hir-i-i I
have seen, and round withal. Two we measured ; the first
78 A WEEK IN THE
from its highest part is six feet deep, but the other parts of
it's brim are not so high ; the sides, as they descend, are not
perpendicular but concave, the shape of the Bason is oval,
six feet long and four wide ; inscrib'd within this oval the
bottom is circular, four feet diameter, hollow'd out as
exactly as a cup ; it held formerly one foot ten inches of
wrater, but the thinner part of the brim being broke oft) it
holds now only eight inches. There is another Bason
contiguous to, and beneath the first, and in shape more
circular. It received the water from the first, when it
overflowed, is six feet six inches diameter, four, feet ten
inches deep, and one foot three inches in water, the sides
more concave than those of the other. There are thirteen
Basons more of different sizes communicating their moisture
to those two great ones wherever the shape of the rock
would permit, otherwise discharging it over the sides another
way ; both the great and small are sunk into an immense
rock, to which we were forced to climb up in a manner
neither very pleasant nor safe. Though the spray of the sea
so near them on every hand might well be supposed to fill
these Basons with salt water, yet I found the water in them
to be quite fresh. Let me add that fronting this group at
a little distance there shoots up a prodigious rock, thin,
pyramidal, twelve feet at the base, and thirty feet high, not
improbably an object of the Druid Devotion."
From his larger work on the Antiquities of Cornwall, I
extract the following passages. Speaking of the " devotional
monuments upon Karnbre Hill, Illogan Parish" he says
" On a Karn on the Western end there are artificial basons
ISLES OF SCILLY. 79
cut in the uppermost rocks. On the second groupe there
are five of the same kind, two of which have plain and
distinct lips or mouths to them to discharge whatever wras
intended to be contain'd in these vessels; their figure
circular, sometimes oblong, and seemingly without any aim
at a regular figure : they were all of different dimensions,
from three to one foot diameter; from one foot to six
"After seeing several other basons on the tops of the rocks,
as we advanc'd towards the East, we found a most curious
orbicular fiat stone, (such as in Cornwall are call'd Quoits
from their figure which has pretty much of the Discus form)
which was wantonly thrown down from the top of a mon-
strous rock, at the foot of which it now lies. On the surface
of this Quoit was an exact circular bason, three feet diameter,
one foot deep, and round the edges many little and shallow
basons communicating with the great one."
His observations may be thought applicable to the basons
which are found in these and in all granite rocks. But their
appearance and their number show this to be highly impro-
bable ; and if the action of the winds and storms sufficiently
account for some why not for all ? Such a suggestion will
I am well aware be thought by many over-bold ; but in the
remarks which, I have ventured to make here and in one
other place, I would be understood as only suggesting that
natural causes, causes in constant operation, are generally
sufficient to account for the cavities in these granite rocks.
The opinion of Davies Gilbert upon this subject may
perhaps be correctly inferred from the following sentence.
80 A WEEK IN THE
" Doctor Borlase has written a separate treatise on the
Scilly Islands, and described in it the scanty remains of
their supposed Druidical Antiquities.* "
There are many cavities in the rocks, as large, or nearly
as large as these famous basins, which cannot from their
position be supposed to be intended to collect and hold the
rain. For instance in the side of that mass of granite which
lies at the back of the Tooth Rock, there is a cavity of very
great extent, which from its position cannot hold the smallest
quantity of water. Others there are on the under surface of
the rocks, a circumstance which makes the improbability
of ascribing them to the labour or the art of man more strong
and more manifest.
The large basons at Peninnis you may, without much
Davies Gilbert quotes from Mr. Bond's Topographical
and Historical Sketches of the Boroughs of East and West
Looe, the following notice of some rock-basons, in the
parish of St. Cleer, and the opinion which he formed
respecting them. " The basons here are of different sizes,
though all of them are of the same shape, which is circular.
Some of them are about a foot and a half in diameter, and
six or eight inches deep; others not so large or deep.
Never having seen any Druidical basons before, and having
had my doubts till this time, whether they might not be
natural productions caused by rain, lightning, &c. I was
led to examine other rocks, whether they had (though
equally exposed to the weather) similar formations, but
* Vol. iv, p. 175.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 81
could not find a bason on any rock that was not singular
either for its shape or situation. I therefore concluded that
these basons were the work of art, and not of nature ; and
I think they were not intended for the purpose of receiving
the rain for common uses, for if so, why were they not
made on rocks of easy access ? It is possible, however,
that rain being held in a natural hollow of a rock, may
decompose that part of the rock on which it rests, and being
whirled about by the wind from time to time, may form
these basons which we attribute to art; and if this is the
case, they must continue increasing in size and depth.
Have such basons ever been seen but on granite rocks ? If
not, probably water dissolves the feltspar and disunites the
quartz and mica; and the winds driving round the water
with particles of quartz at the bottom of the bason, must
consequently fret away the rock and enlarge the bason."
That this is the origin of these curious basons I have
ventured to assert is not only possible but probable.
Again he speaks of " the largest Druidical bason we had
met with which had a lip or channel facing the South. We
found it to be about three feet and a half (42 inches) in
diameter. We did not take its depth, but I think it must
have been about a foot ; it was of a circular form." * I
have taken some pains to obtain an exact measurement of the
basons at Peninnis for the satisfaction or amusement of those
who are curious in these matters. They are as follows : the
smaller bason has a diameter of twenty three inches and is
nearly regularly rounded. Of the larger basons one is pretty
* p. 101.
82 A WEEK IN THE
nearly circular with a diameter of sixty-seven inches and a
depth of thirty-six inches. Its circumference is nineteen
feet. The other is slightly oval, having a longer diameter of
sixty-six inches, and a shorter diameter of fifty-eight inches,
with a mean depth of thirty-six inches.
It will, hence, be seen that the " largest bason" in those
huge rocks " of, I should suppose, a thousand tons weight" *
is not so much as two-thirds of the size of the basons which
you are now surveying, and not more than one-third of
them in depth. The rock in which these are found is only
a few tons in weight.
Leaving this very curious group I would advise you
to return to the margin of the sea, and scramble over the
rocks which project into the water. If the tide is sufficiently
low you will easily find your way to the outer points of this
amphitheatre of rocks. You may even plant your foot on that
which, from its peculiar shape, is called the Monk's Cowl,
and which is one hundred and four feet, seven inches in
From this giddy elevation you must retrace your steps and
find the way into Pitt's Parlour. The Tooth Rock, which you
will at once recognize by its resemblance to the name it bears,
and which, according to Woodley, " is thought by some to
have been a distinguished object of Druidical veneration,"
will be the best guide to this curious chamber. It stands
on high ground, at a short distance Southwards, from the
Kettle and Pans. Troutbeck gives its measurement as
" twelve feet broad at the bottom and tapering to the top,
which is thirty feet high."
ISLES OF SCILLY. 83
The Parlour which is distinguished by the name of Pitt
lies just under this singular rock. If any one is curious to
know why this nook in the rocks is so called, he may be told,
that in days long since gone by, a party of friends, of whom
a Mr. Pitt was one, were wont to spend their summer
evenings together in this retired and romantic spot.
From this height, as you will easily imagine, you may
command a fine view of the Southern ocean, when lashed
into fury by a storm. If the wind has prevailed for some
time from the South or the South West, the waves break
very grandly at the base of the rocks on one of which you
are securely seated, the sheets of spray dash beautifully over
the masses of granite which so firmly await their onset, and
with a deafening roar the tide rushes up the narrow ravine
or channel which, in the lapse of ages, the waters have hollow-
ed for themselves beneath you. It is scarcely necessary to
direct a visitor's attention to the large masses of rock before
him and above him and on either side of him. Troutbeck
speaks of them as " causing by their height and ponderosity
astonishment and admiration in the beholders." The semi-
circle of high, bold rocks, which is crowned by the Monk's
Cowl, presents a grand appearance, as you retire from
Pitt's Parlour; and the fine blocks of granite, of every
shape and size, scattered in all directions add greatly to the
grandeur of the scene. By going to the other side of the
ravine which lies beneath and opposite to the Parlour, the
visiter will have a different and not less imposing view of
this rocky promontory. Here, too, imbedded among huge
piles of rock, is Sleep's abode, (called also a parlour). It is
84 A WEEK IN THE
both difficult of approach and hard to be found ; but the
trouble of searching it out is well rewarded by a sight of the
vast masses of rock which are there heaped together.
Leaving, however, Peninnis Head, the tourist must press
on in an Easterly direction towards Old Town. He will
pass in his progress several rocks of curious shapes and
various dimensions. On the right is a far-extending and
irregular field of rock, for almost every part of which the
islanders have a particular name. Here you may find the
Jolly Rock, marked in the map, which is often visited by
fishing parties ; and here too, in the cliff, is Piper's Hole,
at the distance of fifteen or twenty feet from the turf upon
which we are treading. Troutbeck calls it " a large subter-
raneous cavern next the sea, which at high water washes
the entrance of it." " Going in at the orifice" he adds " it is
above a man's height, and of as much space in its breadth,
but further in it grows narrower and lower. A little distance
from the entrance within appear some rock basons contin-
ually running over with fresh water, descending as it distils
from the sides of the rocky passage." A visiter will be
surprized to see the insignificant place of which this is the
description. It is scarcely worth the fatigue and trouble of
a search, unless it be for the purpose of obtaining a draught
from the clear spring of fresh water which is certainly found
within the cave.
From Piper's Hole the distance is but short to the Pulpit
Rock, of which the dimensions, as you now neady approach
it, will appear more and more considerable. It is difficult to
conceive a rock more curiously perched than that which
ISLES OF SCILLY. 85
bears this appropriate name. It consists of a flat rock
forty-seven feet in length and twelve feet in (mean) breadth,
branching out from a short, thick rock as from a pillar. It
projects horizontally over a smaller rock, which might well
serve as a pulpit to one, who with a voice louder than that of
Stentor would essay to address in language of exhortation
or command the captains of a fleet assembled on the waters
beneath him. The flat rock above his head would worthily
supply the place of a sounding board; and if it were
possible to conceive the voice of man reaching from this
point to sailors on the deep below, the pulpit and the sound-
ing board would be in good keeping with the grandeur and
sublimity of the scene. You may, if you are so disposed,
mount to the top of the sounding board ; you will thus be
able to form a more correct opinion of the length and
breadth of this curious rock, which is one of the most
conspicuous features in the scenery of the coast. The view
on all sides is exceedingly fine. Immediately beneath you
towards the sea are vast masses of rock, very many tons in
weight; at a short distance from the shore is a solitary mass
of granite called Carrickstarne ; and on the Eastern side of
the Bay, a bold, rocky clirT stretching towards the main
land. Nor are the other features in the scene less calculated
to draw attention. Cam Lea, the extreme point of Old
Town Bay to the West, the Bay itself with its sandy beach,
the remains of the old church and the grave stones around
it, the cluster of cottages in Old Town and the green fields
and meadows, varying the prospect and relieving the eye,
will all claim some share of notice and remark.
86 A WEEK IN THE
It is possible to reach Old Town by a nearly direct route,
if the visiter is disposed to force his way over rocks and
rough hedges of stones ; and he will thus have the advantage
of seeing Carn Lea more closely. But I would recommend
him to take an easier course, and to find the path which
leads to the Tower, standing about two hundred yards from
Pulpit Rock. This tower was chosen by a party of the
Sappers and Miners under the direction of Serjeant Steel,
as the spot from which to make their trigonometrical
observations. Its height above mean water has been
determined by them to be one hundred and forty one feet.
From this tower the tourist will find a narrow road in the
direction towards the church ; and at the point where it
meets the main road, leading to the church and Hugh Town,
he must change his course; and choosing the direction
which leads towards Old Town, he may cross the fields by
the path of which I have before spoken, and pay a visit to
Only a small portion of the old church, as before ob-
served, is standing. It was built in the form of a cross ;
though at what period is uncertain. It appears from Trout-
beck's narrative to have been enlarged in 1662, by the
addition of a North aisle ; and from a memorandum in the
earliest of the parish register books, we learn " that the
Southern isle of the church of Saint Mary's, in Scilly, was
began to be built on the sixth day of June, 1677." * The
length of the church from East to West," says Troutbeck,
* In the same register is the following entry. Scilly, November 21st,
1742. Bryher Chapel was dedicated to the pious memory of All Saints,
By me, Paul Hathaway, minister to the Islands of Scilly.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 87
" is sixty feet, and the breadth of that part is nineteen feet ;
the length of the cross aisle, including the breadth of the
middle part of the church, is sixty-two feet, and the breadth
of the cross aisles is sixteen feet." That the church had
greatly fallen into decay, partly through age, yet more
through neglect, may be gathered from the pages of
Troutbeck, which disclose a lamentable want of care for the
sacred building. Its ruinous condition may be inferred
from his unvarnished statement, "in a few years, in all
probability, the church will want a new roof, as it is now
very bad : " and the absence of a due concern for the
maintenance of the fabric, and the niggardly spirit of those
in authority, is shown by the following words, " the steward
says he has no orders to lay out any money in the repairs
of it as formerly." Hence arose the necessity for building
the church which now stands at the entrance of Hugh
Town, the only fault of which is that it is not sufficiently
large for the population.
The account given by Woodley of the church-yard is
happily now incorrect. The inequalities of the ground,
especially on the Western and the Southern side, render it
difficult, if not impossible, to make it such as we could wish
it to be, symmetrical and orderly. But something has been
done ; and the ground on the Eastern side is well arranged.
It is in contemplation to take in some of the out-lying
portions of fields and gardens ; and, by continuing the wall
recently built, to enclose a larger space for the burial of the
dead. Every one will, I think, acknowledge that the
situation of the church-yard is good. The high grounds
88 A WEEK IN THE
about it, towards the West, are planted with Scotch firs;
and Carn Lea, which seems from a distance to form its
termination towards the South East, adds greatly to the
interest of the spot.
From the church-yard there is a good road at the head of
Old Town bay. "This bay, as well as Porcrasa, is full of
spacious ledges of hollow rocks, which probably were once
covered with land, but now exhibit a dreary appearance at
low water, and are very dangerous at all times." * In this
bay the conger fishery was formerly carried on to a great
extent. A stone trough, which will be pointed out to you
in your walk to-morrow, " was formerly used for salting fish
in, as this was the place where formerly all the fish, from
every island were brought to be cured, when stages were
erected in a field adjoining, for drying the fish in the sun." f
Large supplies of the fish so cured were carried up the
Straits, and exported to other places. This was an extensive
branch of trade, and of great advantage to the Isles, until
it was superseded by the pilchard fisheries of Mount's Bay.
The Eastern extremity of Old Town Bay, is called
Tolman Point. A legend tells that from this point the
monks were wont in olden time to levy a toll on all vessels
sailing into the bay : and thence the name. Woodley
suggests a different etymology. "Tolman" he says "or
rather Tol-men is a Cornu-British word, signifying a holed
stone ; and by analogy a covered rocky passage." On the
question suggested by this hypothesis of Woodley, I will
select one extract from Borlase ; though the reader may
* Woodley. t Troutbeck.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 89
perhaps think that there is good reason for the doubt
expressed by Polwhele, when he says in reference to the
Tol-men in the parish of Constantine, "not that I think
with Dr. Borlase that it was shaped by art."* Borlase
thus writes, "There is another kind of Stone-deity, which
has never been taken notice of by any Author that I have
heard of. It's common name in Cornwall and Scilly, is
Tolmen ; that is, the Hole of Stone. It consists of a large
Orbicular Stone, supported by two Stones, betwixt which,
there is a passage. There are two of these in the Scilly
Islands, one on St. Mary's Island, at the bottom of Salakee
Downs ; the top Stone 45 foot in girt, horizontally measur'd;
the other in the little island of Northwethel, 33 feet in
girt horizontal, by 24 perpendicular measurement. They
are both in the decline of hills, beneath a large Karn of
Rocks, standing on two natural supporters; the first has
one exactly round Bason on it; the second has none,
neither are there any Basons on the Rocks below, or near
it; but elsewhere on the Island there are several. Both
these are probably erected by Art, and the Top-stones,
large as they are, brought from the Karns above, and
plac'd by human strength where we see them." The visiter
will judge for himself whether there is any thing in the
appearance of these rocks to justify Mr. Woodley's
About midway between this point and Cam Lea, is the
Gull Rock, and at some distance to the South of it is
another rock, called the Gilstone.
* Vocabulary to Polwhele's Cornwall.
90 A WEEK IX THE
The Carn which rears its head at the South of the houses
in Old Town, bears the same name as the point. Near it
"is a sod battery, where is now only one gun, a four-
pounder, dismounted. There were three guns upon this
battery within fifty years past, two of which were taken
away about forty years since, by order of the government." *
This single piece was removed upwards of thirty years
Passing through the little village of Old Town, the
visiter will see upon his left the rocks on which the Castle
formerly stood. There are still some small remains of the
Northern wall. The height on which the Castle was built,
is scarcely less than one hundred feet above the level of the
sea. It is said to have been beaten down by Oliver Crom-
well; many of the stones were removed from the ruins
about fifty years ago, and used in building the cottages,
which lie near it on the road.
At a short distance from Old Town towards the North
East, is one of the best gardens in the island. The myrtle
hedges, and other plants rarely found, except in greenhouses,
on the main land, which are growing here in great beauty,
give good proof of the advantages both of soil and climate
enjoyed in the islands, and show that floriculture may be
carried to any extent, if only the hurtful effects of storm and
wind can be prevented by seasonable shelter. Dr. Borlase has
made the same observation. "Roots of all kinds, Pulse and
Sallets grow well ; Dwarf Fruit-trees, Gooseberries, Currants,
Rasberries, all Shrubs, and whatever rises not above their
ISLES OF SCILLY. 91
Hedges do very well ; and even these would do better, if they
would provide against storms, by planting shelters of Elder,
Dutch-elm, Sycamore, and the like, in Clumps and Hedge-
rows ; and 'till they can reconcile themselves to the trouble
and time of raising such shelters, all their Vegetables must
be exposed, in proportion to their height, to the winds ; but
to tell you the truth, the true spirit of Planting either has
never reached here, or has been forced to give way to more
necessary calls." At a short distance from this garden on
the left is Parting Cam, called by Troutbeck, Parton Cam ;
and a quarter of a mile further on the right hand is
Tremelethen. The gardens and orchards belonging to this
farm will show you the produce of the Island. It consists,
chiefly, of a great variety of apples; and the trees at
Tremelethen have the advantage of a warm aspect and
Continuing your walk along the road which is now in
progress, you will gain a view of the comfortable farm at
Longstone, rejoicing in the warmth of a Southern sky; but,
before you reach it, the road changes its direction and bears
towards the farms at Carnifriers. This is, no doubt, a
corruption of Carn Friars, as a small heap of rocks, lying
near to these farms is so called. Troutbeck speaks of this part
of the island as " a village which consists of several farm
houses and some cottages ;" a description which can scarcely
be said now to apply to it, as there are but two farms and
two other cottages in this immediate spot.
Leaving these farms on your right I would advise you to
make your way over a gently sloping field which lies nearly
92 A WEEK IN THE
North East from Carn Friars. At the farther corner of this
field is a rough road which will guide you to a farm called
Normandy towards the Eastern extremity of St. Mary's.
Thence your way must be Northward, across a common and
along a road, presenting a succession of pretty views, to
Maypole, as the Hill is called which surmounts Holy Vale.
This Hill affords one of the prettiest prospects on St. Mary's.
At its foot is Holy Vale a pleasant sheltered nook, with four
good substantial farm houses. About a century ago this
farm belonged to a family of the name of Grudge, the last
member of which died in November, 1848, at the advanced
age of ninety-seven. "Mr. William Grudge was deputy
Commissary of Ministers in 1751, and his grand-father,
Mr. John Grudge, married Ursula, second daughter cf Sir
Francis Godolphin." * This central farm " lies warm, well
exposed towards a little Southern Cove, called Forth Hellick
and so well sheltered from the North winds, that trees grow
very well here, of which a few tall ones are sufficient proof;
and I am persuaded that every kind of fruit tree common in
England might be propogated here with success." * One
of the finest trees, a sycamore, was cut down, I am told, to
make room for the house which now stands at right angles
to the principal building. The original farm, or, more
correctly, the farm which was built after the first was
destroyed by fire, consisted of the two central houses. The
neat gardens in Holy Vale, in which there are some choice
myrtles and a fine aloe, just now coming into bloom, will
draw the attention of the visiter.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 93
The road, for a short distance is shaded by trees, which,
screened from the violence of the winds, are of a less stunted
growth than elsewhere in the islands. As soon as you have
passed their friendly shelter, a stile upon the left hand will
direct you to a foot-path which winds in a pretty circuit
towards the South. By taking this path we secure a view of
the orchards and gardens belonging to Holy Vale, and reach
the high ground above Longstone.
From this elevation a nearer view of the fresh water at
Forth Hellick and of the inland scenery of St. Mary's is
obtained. The path above the farm will conduct us to the
new road, nearly at the point which bears towards Tremelethen.
You will find the return to the town expedited by the road
which is thus far complete, and which will surprize you by its
width, and by the good stone hedges which on either side
form its boundary. A seat will presently invite you to rest
awhile; and, as it is conveniently placed and commands a
pleasant prospect, you may be disposed to accept the accom-
modation which it offers. The initials on the stone will tell
you by whose care and kindness it is here placed; and,
together with the date, will inform you under whose auspices
the good road was formed which offers to conduct you to
THERE is more than sufficient for one day's employment yet
remaining to be seen in St. Mary's. Starting therefore early,
we will resume our examination of the Coast at the Eastern
point of Old Town Bay. Here the visiter will find a foot-
path in front of some cottages near to the sea, which will guide
him to the rocks on the Southern side of the island ; and these
are to be explored to-day. There are several fine Cams and
masses of Granite in this part of the island which deserve a
At the North East corner of the Bay is the trough of
which I said something in the excursion of yesterday. It
" consists of only one stone, and will hold eighteen Winchester
bushels. It was dug from a quarry upon Sallakey Downs,
about half-a-mile distant." * It is now in a great measure
concealed ; for it supports an outhouse or shed ; but, as it is
placed at the outer corner, there is no difficulty in discovering
Passing Forth Minick with its white gravelly beach, we
96 A WEEK IN THE
arrive at Blue Cam. This name describes the mass of rocks
which forms the cliff at the Southern point of the isle : but
it is usually distinguished as the Inner and the Outer Cam.
The Inner Cam is chiefly remarkable for its laminated
appearance ; and this form is characteristic of many of the
rocks. At the North West side of the Gugh there is a very
beautiful block of granite, (which I omitted to point out in
the third excursion) thus, as it were, distributed in successive
layers ; and many such may be seen on all the Isles. The
outer Cam, that most to the South East, is a very singular
group of rocks piled upon each other in every variety of form.
Church Point and Ledge is the name given to the next
mass of rocks projecting into the water. The name is
probably derived from the circumstance that the outer point
of this ledge being in a line with the Old Church is a mark
In the Bay somewhat more to the East, which is over-hung
by the Giant's Castle, it is easy to land from a boat, however
large. Upon high ground at the South Eastern corner of
this bay once stood the Giants' Castle, of which Troutbeck
gives a full account. " It was probably " he says " designed
by the Danes as a retreat from the Saxons, in case they
should be cut off from their ships, and certainly it must have
been a place of great strength in those times, especially if
they had plenty of provisions within it." Borlase thus speaks
of it " This Castle is situated on a promontory, which towards
the sea is an immense crag of rocks, as if heaped on each
other : this heap, or turret of rocks declines also quick, but
not so rough towards the land, and then spreads to join the
ISLES OF SCILLY. 97
downs, where at the foot of this knoll it has first a ditch
crossing- the neck of land from sea to sea; then a low
Vullum of the same direction ; next, a second ditch and a
higher Vallum ; lastly, near the top of this crag, it had a wall
of stone encompassing every part, but where the natural rocks
were a sufficient security ; this wall by the ruins appears
to have been very high and thick. It is call'd, as I said but
now, the Giant's Castle, the common people in these islands
us well as elsewhere, attributing all extraordinary works to
giants. \\ e have many of these Castles on the Cornish cliffs ;
they seem designed by pirates and invaders to protect them-
selves whilst they were landing their forces, ammunition and
implements of war, and to secure a safe retreat towards their
ships in case of need. I am apt therefore to think that such
Cliff-Castles are as ancient as the times of the Danish, if not
of the Saxon, invasions." The visiter will form his own
opinion upon the subject. By those who have had an oppor-
tunity of comparing this with more undoubted vestiges of a
hostile encampment, with Brahane Ring, for instance, in the
Parish ofSancreed, it will be acknowledged that the evidence
in favour of such a supposition is comparatively small. There
is indeed some appearance of entrenchments and fortifications,
though it is difficult to conceive for what purpose they can
have been constructed, unless we suppose the island to have
been of far greater extent formerly than now. The highest
point of this heap of rocks commands a good view of the
coast, in its windings by Old Town to Peninnis ; or, looking
Eastwards, of the promontories of rock, which one after
another jut out into the waters.
98 A WEEK IN THE
On the Western side of this Carn, just above the cliff, is
the Logan Rock, which has the great advantage of being
easily accessible and easily moved. Its weight is calculated
to be forty-five tons.
Not far from the Logan Rock " near half-way down the
hill, next the sea is a cave, among the rocks, called Tom
Butt's bed, which is very dangerous and difficult to get at,
the ground being so steep about it, so called from a boy who
concealed himself in it, three days and three nights in the
reign of Queen Anne, for fear of being impressed on board
a man of war." *
On the downs to the North of Giant's Castle there are
many sepulchral barrows. Borlase thus describes them in
his Antiquities of Cornwall. "There is a very singular
kind of Barrow which obtains throughout all the Scilly
Islands; they are edg'd with large stones, which form the
outward Ring ; in the middle they have a cavity wall'd on
each side, and cover'd with large flat stones, and over all is
a Tumulus of small Stones and Earth, in some more of
Earth than Stones, in others vice versa. Upon opening it, in
the middle of the Barrow we found a large Cavity, full of
Earth ; there was a passage into it at the Eastern end, one
foot eight inches wide, between two stones set on end. In
the middle it was four feet eight inches wide, the length of it
twenty-two feet. It was wall'd on each side with Masonry
and Mortar, the sides four feet ten inches high; at the
Western end it had a large flat Stone which terminated
the Cavity, its length bore E. and by N. and it was cover'd
ISLES OF SCILLY. 99
from end to end with large flat Stones, several of which we
removed in order to get the exact dimensions of the Cavity,
and others had been carried off for building. Forty-two
feet distant, to the N. E. we opened another Barrow of the
same kind. The Cave was less in all respects, but of the
same shape; the length bore N. E. by E. 14 feet, the walled
sides two feet high ; where the Cavity was narrowest, it was
but one foot eight inches, in the middle four foot, and at the
S. W. end two feet wide in the bottom. On one side, in the
floor, was a small round Cavity, dug deeper than the rest.
It was cover'd with flat Rocks as the former. In both these
we found neither Bone nor Urn, but some strong unctuous
Earth, of different colours from the natural, which smelt
cadaverous. The reason why these Cavities were made so
much beyond the dimensions of the human body, was
probably that they might contain the Remains not of one
person only, but of whole families, it being usual among the
ancients for particular families to have separate Burying
Places. The vulgar, however, are not easily persuaded, but
that these Graves were made according to the size of the
Body there interr'd, and they are still called in these Islands,
The Giants Graves." Urns and other relics have, I am
told, been discovered in the vicinity of these barrows, though
I have no conclusive evidence of the fact.
1 hiving passed two small bays the visiter will next come
to .Newfoundland Korks and Newfoundland Point. It was
on this part of the coast that a French vessel drifted in with
its kt-el uppermost, and yet affording the means of preser-
vation to four of its crew. It will, I think, be expected
100 A WEEK IN THE
that I should transcribe the account of so marvellous an
occurrence into these pages.
"The Brig ' Nerina,' of Dunkerque, sailed from that place
on Saturday, the 31st of October, 1840, under the command
of Capt. PIERRE EVERAERT, with a cargo of oil and can-
vass for Marseilles: her burthen was about 114 tons; the
crew consisted of seven persons, including the captain and
his nephew, a boy 14 years old.
"At 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Monday the 16th of
November, they were forced to heave-to in a gale of wind,
at about ten or twelve leagues S. W. of the Scilly Islands.
At 7 o'clock of the same evening, still lying-to under their
close reefed main-top-sail and balanced reefed main-sail, a
heavy sea struck the vessel, and she suddenly capsized,
turning completely bottom up.
" The only man on the deck at the time was named
BOUMELARD, who was instantly engulfed in the ocean. In
the forecastle were three seamen — VINCENT, VANTAURE,
and JEAN MARIE : the two former, by seizing hold of the
windlass-bits succeeded in getting up close to the keelson,
and so kept their heads above water. Poor JEAN MARIE
was not so fortunate, — he must have been in some measure
entangled; as, after convulsively grasping the heel of
VANTAURE for a few seconds, he let go his hold and was
drowned. His body was never seen afterwards. The other
two, finding that the shock of the upset had started the
bulkhead between the forecastle and the hold, and that the
cargo itself had fallen down on the deck, contrived to draw
themselves on their faces close alongside the keelson, (for it
ISLES OF SCILLY. 101
could not be called on their hands and knees for want of
height) towards the stern of the ship, from whence they
thought they heard some voices.
"At the time of the accident, the captain, the mate JEAN
GALLO, and the boy NICHOLAS NISSEN, were in the cabin.
The captain caught the boy in his arms, under the full
impression that their last moments had arrived.
" The mate succeeded in wrenching open the trap-hatch
in the cabin deck, and in clearing out some casks which
were jammed in the lazarette (a sort of small triangular
space between the cabin floor and the keelson, where stores
are generally stowed away) : having effected this, he scram-
bled up into the vacant space and took the boy from the
hands of the captain, whom he then assisted to follow them.
" In about an hour they were joined by VINCENT and
VANTAURE from the forecastle. There were then five
individuals closely cooped together : as they sat they were
obliged to bend their bodies for want of height above them,
whilst the water reached as high as their waists ; from which
irksome position one at a time obtained some relief by
stretching at full-length on the barrels in the hold, squeezing
himself up close to the keelson.
" They were able to distinguish between day and night by
the light striking from above into the sea, and being reflected
up through the cabin sky-light, and then into the lazarette
through the trap-hatch in the cabin floor.
" The day and night of Tuesday the 17th, and day of Wed-
day the 18th, passed without food, without relief, and
almost without hope ; but still each encouraged the others,
102 A WEEK IN THE
when neither could hold out hope to himself, — endeavouring
to assuage the pangs of hunger by chewing the bark strip-
ped off from the hoops of the casks. Want of fresh air
threatening them with death by suffocation, the mate worked
almost incessantly for two days and one night in endeavour-
ing, with his knife, to cut a hole through the hull. Happily
the knife broke before he had succeeded in accomplishing
his object, the result of which must have proved fatal, as
the confined air alone preserved the vessel in a sufficiently
"In the dead of the night of Wednesday the 18th, the
vessel suddenly struck heavily : on the third blow the stern
dropped so much that all hands were forced to make the
best of their way, one by one, further towards the bows ; in
attempting which poor VINCENT was caught by the water
and drowned, falling down through the cabin floor and sky-
"After the lapse of an hour or two, finding the water to
ebb, GALLO got down into the cabin, and whilst seeking
for the hatchet, which was usually kept there, was forced
to rush again for shelter to the lazarette, to avoid being
drowned by the sea, which rose on him with fearful rapidity.
Another hour or two of long suffering succeeded, when
they were rejoiced to see by the dawning of the day of
Thursday the 19th, that the vessel was fast on rocks, one
of which projected up through the sky-light. The captain
then went down into the cabin, and found that the quarter
of the ship was stoved ; and looking through the opening,
he called out to his companions above, ' Grace a Dieu nies
ISLES OF SCILLY. 103
enfans, nous sommes sauves ! je vois un homme a terre ! '
(Thank God, my children, we are saved ! I see a man on
the beach !) Immediately after this the man approached
and put in his hand, which the captain seized, almost as
much to the terror of the poor man as to the intense delight
of the captain. Several people of the neighbourhood were
soon assembled ; the side of the ship was cut open, and
the four poor fellows were liberated from a floating
sepulchre, after an entombment of three days and three
nights in the mighty deep.
" The spot where the vessel struck is called Porthellick,
in the island of St. Mary's, Scilly : she must have been
driven on the rocks soon after midnight, at about the period
of high-water, and was discovered lying dry at about 7
o'clock on Thursday morning by a man accidentally passing
along the cliffs. In another half-hour the returning tide
would have sealed their fate. The body of VINCENT was
thrown on the rocks at a short distance from the wreck,
and has been interred in the burial-ground of St. Mary's,
with the usual rites of the established church.
" Not the least remarkable part of the narrative is, that
in the afternoon of Wednesday the 18th, the wreck
floating bottom up was fallen in with, at about a league
and a half distant from the islands, by two pilot boats,
which took her in tow for about an hour ; but their tow-
ropes breaking, and night approaching, with a heavy sea
running and every appearance of bad weather, they
abandoned her; not having the least suspicion that there
were human beings alive in the hold of the vessel, which
104 A WEEK IX THE
was floating with little more than her keel above water ! !
whilst, had the vessel not been so taken in tow, the set of
the current would have drifted her clear of the islands into
the vast Atlantic."
Bearing towards the North we shall presently reach the
Drum Rock, which, in the opinion of Troutbeck, with
many other rocks, as curiously, and, according to his
hypothesis, artificially placed, is " supposed to have been
an object of Druidical veneration." This rock is at only
a short distance from Forth Hellick, " (i. e. Cove of
Willows) and doubtless so called from the plenty of
Willows growing formerly in the wet grounds adjoining." *
Here Sir Cloudesley Shovel found a temporary burial. The
very spot is pointed out, in which his remains, when
recovered from the deep, were deposited; and it is said
that on that spot the grass never grows. The concise
account of the terrible disaster in which the Admiral
perished, as given by Davies Gilbert, will suffice for the
information of the reader. Fuller particulars may be
gathered from Troutbeck. "Among the innumerable
wrecks that have taken place at Scilly, the most remarkable
is that of the Victory, a first-rate ship of war, commanded
by Sir Cloudesley Shovel, returning from a series of
exploits, which continued adding to his reputation even
when they failed of obtaining success. This ship, with
two others of a smaller size, struck on the rocks of Scilly
in the night following the 22nd October, 1705, when
between fifteen hundred and two thousand men are supposed
ISLES OF SCILLY. 105
to have perished ; and there is a tradition of one man
having escaped, and of his relating some anecdotes of
obstinacy, and even of violence, on the part of the Admiral,
discreditable to him as a man, and the immediate causes
of the calamity ; but these additions induce me entirely to
disbelieve the whole tale." *
To the North of this beach is a large pool of fresh water,
which abounds with eels, mullets, and flounders. Nearly
due West of this pool is " a farm house called Sallakee," *f"
which gives their names to the fields forming the high ground
towards the South.
In Borlase's Antiquities, ;£ the reader may find an account
of a " plane of Rock," whose area was " 172 feet from North
to South, and 138 from East to West." Elsewhere he says
"As these stones are evidently shaped by art, and for no
conceivable purpose, either civil, military, or domestic, I
conclude them stone-deities ; their Flint designed perhaps
to express the stability of their God ; and the roundness
of the upper part, his eternity." § This great stone stood
" on the edge of a most remarkable circular Temple at
Suhikee in Scilly." It is almost superfluous to add that
there is no proof to be discovered now, of the truth of
this statement, which depends solely on the authority of
On Sallakey Hill are two stone crosses of which it is
difficult to conceive the origin or intention. They are now
fixed in the stone hedge : one to the East at the Northern
corner of the field j the other to the West in the middle of
" Vol. iv, p. 174. t Troutbeck. J p. 198. § p. 173.
106 A WEEK IN THE
the wall, near a gate. Neither has any inscription, nor any
rudely sculptured figure, as is the case with many of the
crosses in other parts of Cornwall : and both are of incon-
Dick's Cam forms the South Eastern point of Forth
Hellick, opposite the Drum Rock. Near it are several
baiTows, very similar in their form and dimensions ; all of
which appear to have been opened. To the South East of
Dick's Carn " is a scattering heap of rocks, very large and
curious, of different forms and sizes, called Clapper Rocks."*
This place is well worth visiting ; for the rocks will repay a
careful and minute examination. Those especially on the
higher ground, above the chamber which has been used as a
banqueting room, are very singular, completely covered with
rock-basons. According to the theory, which ascribes these
cavities to the work of the Druids, marvellous pains and
labour must have been consumed in channelling these masses
of granite. But it is certainly more reasonable to assert
that these stones are sufficient to disprove that theory.
What Borlase says of a rock at Peninnis, " On one we saw
fifteen basons," might with truth be said of more than one
of the rocks which are here to be seen.
Crossing the Downs from hence in an Easterly direction,
the visiter will have a fine sea-view and a bold, rocky cliff,
with here and there large fragments of granite. Among
them is the Sun Rock of which Troutbeck gives a very
minute and particular account, appending to it a dissertation
on the religious rites of the Phoenicians.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 107
Of another rock, near to this, and bearing the name of
the Giant's Chair, he speaks as " probably a seat in which
the Arch Druid sat, to observe the rising sun." Few visiters
will, I am inclined to think coincide in his opinion. The
action of the wind and rain upon the granite is sufficient
to account for this and those other cavities which the cred-
ulous have regarded as works of " art and man's device."
They are, it is probable, larger or smaller, according to the
proportion of feld-spar in the masses of granite and the de-
gree of disintegration which the rock has undergone. These
considerations, which more properly belong to the geologist,
may perhaps account for the peculiar position in which many
of the rocks are found. " Where hard and soft granite are
intermixed the softer granite is disintegrated, and falls away,
leaving the harder blocks and masses piled in confusion
upon each other, like an immense mass of ruins." *
The rock in question will serve well the purpose of a chair
to any one who is disposed to linger awhile on this high
ground : for from it there is an extensive and pleasing
prospect, the mainland in the distance, and in the fore-
ground, as it were, the Eastern Isles with all their variety of
light and shade. Deep Point, " the Eastern-most point of
St, Mary's Island," f presents a fine mass of rocks, especi-
ally on its Southern side. In abrupt and picturesque
grandeur, the Gap is perhaps second only to the rocks at
Peninnis Head; or, if this be giving it too high a place, this
bold Point will be allowed to rank after the Giant's Castle.
From Deep Point it is not liir to Mount Todden; and
• Popular Encyclopedia. t Troutbeck.
108 A WEEK IN THE
between these two places is, I imagine, the " subterraneous
cavern called Darrity's Hole" of which Troutbeck speaks.
" Near this place" he adds " is a fine spring of fresh water,
which issues out of a rock, but it is dangerous and difficult
to be got at."
At Mount Todden "there is one gun, a four pounder,
dismounted ; " and " a small watch-house in which a soldier
of the garrison and three islanders keep watch every night
in war time, lest a privateer of the enemy should land in
this part of the island, to plunder or to carry off the sheep
and cattle." * This battery is now called Pellew's redoubt ;
and derives its name from the signal gun, an eighteen-
pounder, which Lord Exmouth placed here when he was in
command of this station.
From this the most Eastern extremity of St. Mary's, a
visiter should bend his steps Northwards ; and he will easily
find the way to Toll's Island, on which there are some ruins
of buildings, supposed to have been batteries." ^ At a short
distance to the North is New Quay, or, as in the map, New
Key ; and the walk upon the cliff is exceedingly pleasant.
From this point he will have a yet nearer view of the
Eastern group of islands, which at every change of aspect
present new features of beauty.
When he has sufficiently explored this part of the island,
Watermill Lane opens a narrow but pleasant path towards
Helveor. The ' petty rill' murmuring by the way-side, and
the profusion of honey-suckle and wild flowers in the hedge
make this a very delightful walk. On the left side of the lane,
ISLES OF SCILLY. 109
about one hundred yards from the head of Watermill Bay,
is ;i fine spring called Lentevern Well, and at a short dis-
tance further from the sea, the road divides, and a foot-path
upon your right hand will guide you over a hill to Helveor.
Nearly due North of Helveor is Inisidgen Point and
Isle, the North Eastern land of St. Mary's. This earn of
rocks is well worthy of examination ; and its proximity to
the Eastern Isles and St. Martin's secures a very pretty
view, either from its summit or its base. But that, which
makes this hill an object of especial interest, is a remark-
ably fine barrow on nearly its highest point. It is the
largest which I have seen, and in most excellent preservation.
Its dimensions are about fourteen feet in length, four feet
six inches in width, and three feet eight inches in height ;
and it has five top or covering stones. Troutbeck speaks
of it as " a cave of masons' work, four feet high, and four
From hence your path will lie in a West-North- West
direction ; and you will have an ever-varying and most
beautiful prospect as you advance.
By keeping along the coast you would have arrived at
Sandy Bar, and at Pendrathen Quay, which is nearly oppo-
site to the Crow Rock. But I would advise you to change
your route, because there is not anything particularly calling
for notice on this part of the coast; and that, which I am
recommending, will have the advantage of giving you a
view of the interior of the island. On the high ground
towards the South West, in the direction of the Telegraph,
there " is a stone set upright, near nine feet high, and near
110 A WEEK IN THE
ten feet round the thickest part, called Long Rock, which
is supposed to have been an idol of the Druids." From
the top of the Telegraph, which is two hundred and four
feet above mean water, the visiter will command a
panoramic view of the principal objects in St. Mary's, and
of the relative situation of the other isles. In the distance,
the Eastern group, St.. Martin's, Tean, Menavawr, Tresco,
with the harbours of Old and New Grimsby on either side,
Bryher, the two hills of Samson, the Broad Sound, Annet,
St. Agnes, and the far-stretching isles and rocks to the
West : at your feet, the farms and downs of St. Mary's.
In an Easterly direction from the Telegraph, "about a
furlong East from Long Rock, is an ancient farm-house,
called Trenoweth ; and about a quarter of a mile to the
South East from the same rock, is another good farm-house,
called Newford, " near which is an orchard of about an
acre of land, which produces very fair fruit, planted about
the year 1750, by Mr. Thomas Smith, then steward to the
Earl of Godolphin." * There is another farm, Normandy,
called by Borlase, Normundy Tenement, to the West of
Mount Todden ; and several substantial) though small farm-
houses in different parts of the country. The roads which
are in progress through the length and breadth of the
island will naturally excite surprize. They are rendered
necessary by the greatly increasing traffic ; and afford good
proof of the prosperity of the isles. On all sides you will
see most excellent materials for their formation.
Nearly due North from the Telegraph is Bant's Cam.
ISLES OF SCILLY. Ill
From the testimony of Troutbeck we learn that, during his
residence in St. Mary's, there was " a small village, called
Bant's Farm, a quarter of a mile W. by S. from Toll's
Hill." Though the situation assigned to this farm, "divided,"
as he tells us, " into three tenements," does not direct us to
the heap of rocks which now bears the name of Bant's
Carn, yet, doubtless, the sentence which I have quoted
explains the origin of that name. To the South West of
this earn is a barrow in very good preservation. It has
three top or covering stones ; and its sides are secured by
flat stones in the manner which has before been described.
It is about twelve feet in length, three feet six inches wide,
two feet six inches in height. On the Downs, to the East-
South-East of this, there is another barrow from which the
top stones have been removed. It is otherwise very com-
From the Telegraph the visiter must bend his steps to
Carn Morval at the North Eastern side of St. Mary's Pool
or harbour. Somewhat less than a quarter of a mile
Westward from the Telegraph is a road which will conduct
him to the fields above Porthloo. Passing at the head of
several cottages which form a little village in this corner
of the island, he must cross some fields covered with golden
furze, and make his way to the sea-coast. The view from
Carn Morval is one of the finest which the Isles afford.
Winding along in a Southerly direction, the path conducts
you to Porthloo Bay, from which the church, the pier, the
garrison, and the town are all seen to great advantage. The
most Northern of the two islands nearly opposite this bay,
112 A WEEK IN THE
is called in the map, Taylor's Island, which at high-water
appears to be only a very pretty earn of rocks, rearing its
head from the midst of the deep : that to the South is
Newford Island. The fine bay to which you will presently
come, is called Permellin ; Borlase writes it Porthmellyn.
" The beach shelves almost imperceptibly to a great extent,
and the sand here is of a remarkably fine quality, and
' much coveted,' says Troutbeck, ' by the Cornish people
and others, for scouring brass, pewter, &c., and for
drying up writing ink. Even in Heath's time, presents
were made of it to many parts of England, as a curiosity.'
The circuit of the beach, at high-water mark, is about one
hundred and sixty yards." * The hill above Permellin to
the East is called Mount Flagin, or Flagon, which
Woodley ingeniously supposes to be derived from ^Xsyw
to burn. He fortifies his opinion by the name given to a hill
somewhat more to the east ; and which is called indifferently
Rocky and Brimstone Hill. " I am at a loss" he says " to
conjecture what affinity may have been between these names
and the places to which they are applied, unless beacons
were formerly lighted on this part of the island ; a supposi-
tion by no means improbable, when it is considered that
this is nearly the highest part of St. Mary's, and commands
both the bays." On this hill " are the remains of a strong
building, called Harry's Walls. This was intended for a
fort, and was begun in the reign of Henry the Eighth,
before any other regular fortifications were erected on the
Island; but the situation was ill chosen, and therefore,
ISLES OF SCILLY. 113
probably, the work was abandoned at an early stage. There
is a curtain, with two bastions, remaining ; the latter are
hollow, and project with very acute angles. The length
of the whole is sixty two yards ; the face of each bastion
sixteen yards ; the walls are from ten to twelve feet thick,
and about five feet high. Such was the peculiar excellence
of the cement used in this work, that but few of the stones
have been dislodged notwithstanding the exertions that
have been made for that purpose; and the fortress may
probably remain in its present state for centuries to come." *
On the North side of these walls, and on the summit of
the hill, is a stone similar to that near the Telegraph. It
is placed in a most commanding position, and stands
about nine feet and a half above the ground. There is no
inscription, or figure upon it, but it is generally supposed to
have been " set up for an object of Druidical superstition."
This stone is not so large in circumference as the other ; a
circumstance, probably, quite accidental.
The Western point of Permellin is Cam Thomas. Woodley
suggests as a probable derivation of Thomas, " the British
\\<>rd Tommen, (bearing a close affinity to the Latin word
tumulus,) a little hill, by which compound name this point of
land is exactly described : a little hill with a heap of rocks."
" Cam Thomas is a bold point of land projecting about
one hundred yards into St. Mary's Pool, and dividing it
into two beautiful bays. The top and sides of this point
are clothed with grass, and a school-house is erected towards
that end nearest the road. The height of the top stone of
the earn is about eighty feet above the level of the sea." *
114 A WEEK IN THE
The visiter will be amply rewarded, if he examines this
earn carefully, by the fine masses of rock which are here
grouped together. Whether seen from the pier, the road,
or the beach, it is an object of interest; and I would
recommend a yet closer survey of its beauties, by climbing
its sides, and scaling its summit, from which there is, as
might be supposed, a wide and comprehensive prospect.
THE Garrison is yet to be explored; and it holds out
many inducements to a leisurely walk in the evening. How
beautiful the view, which may be enjoyed from its higher
ground towards the West, of the setting sun. There is
certainly no place in England where you can command
this most lovely of all summer sights to greater perfection.
The garrison is united to the main land of St. Mary's by
the isthmus on which the principal part of the town is built.
The approach to it is by a somewhat steep hill, which rises
" to a height of about one hundred and ten feet above the
level of the sea."* The entrance is at the North East
corner, on the high ground above the Pier and the Pool.
Over the gate is a large bell, which serves the purpose of
a clock to the inhabitants of St Mary's. Within the gate
on the left hand is the guard room, in which is the clock
which regulates the ringing of the bell; and an excellent
barometer, placed there by the late inspecting commander,
Capt. Hull, l». N., for the especial use of the pilots and
116 A WEEK IN THE
masters of vessels. The road to the right, in a Westerly
direction will lead you above the house of the master gun-
ner, and the soldiers' quarters, to a very pleasant walk on a
grass terrace beyond the barracks. That to the left will
conduct you to the houses which were designed for the
officers. The magazine for keeping gunpowder, which is
bomb proof, stands near the gate through which you pass in
going to these houses. There is a good broad road round
the Garrison, the greater part of which has been made by
the proprietor within the last few years. The whole circuit
within the walls is a mile and a quarter.
There is also a very pleasant walk, on soft and springy
turf, outside the wall towards the West and South, on the
very margin of the sea, from which you may be tempted to
explore the rocks, which form the natural and sure defence
of this little citadel. The Steval and the Woolpack and
other rocks, of more or less repute, will here be pointed out
to you. This walk may well employ a leisure hour.
The obvious course for a visiter however will be up the
broad path which leads to the Star Castle. The castle is
situate upon the highest ground, and derives its name, no
doubt, from its shape and figure. " It consists of eight
salient angles, projecting twenty four feet." * Rudely sculp-
tured over the door, by which you enter the precincts of the
Castle, is the date of its erection, 1593, surmounted by the
letters E. R. Within are several good and serviceable
rooms; in one of which is a small but excellent library
given by the associates of the late Rev. Dr. Bray for the
use of the clergy of the islands.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 117
Beneath the Castle on the North Western side of the
Garrison, are the quarters of the invalid Gunners. They
enjoy here a quiet retreat, with few duties, save those of
keeping the several batteries in order, and giving warning
of the flight of time by ringing the bell, which hangs over
the entrance. Instead of accounting it a banishment the
sick soldier should regard his settlement on these Isles as a
blessing of no small value. That, which Woodley speaks of
as a probable event, has in fact come to pass. Many of the
gentry from Penzance and from other parts of England have
visited Scilly in search of health ; and, through the blessing of
God, have attained the object of their wishes. There can be
little question that, so soon as the means of communication
between Penzance and the larger towns in the West of
England are complete, many will be drawn to this most health-
ful air ; and not a few perhaps, who would in other days have
been advised to seek a milder climate in some foreign land.
A walk along the ramparts commands a good view of all
the islands and the seas about them ; and the prospect will
enable you to form some idea of the magnificent scenes
presented by a storm, when the waves break wildly on the
countless rocks around ; or when vessels of all classes and
from all countries are forced by contrary winds to drop
anchor in " The Koad," or to seek refuge in the harbours.
As many as two hundred vessels have at the same time
found shelter and safety here; and in the war time not
fewer than three hundred, it was computed, lay at anchor in
thi> port. The interest and beauty of the scene, which the
Road and the Harbours at such times present, cannot easily
118 A WEEK IN THE
be conceived. Borlase thus graphically describes it.
" Sunday, June 7, in the morning, it blew very hard at
East and East-South-East, and as all our Friends at Scilly
had been wishing that we might have the pleasure of seeing
their Harbour and Pool well set off with Ships before our
return, we were in great expectation, but at our coming
home at noon from Morning Service, only two little sloops
appeared. In the afternoon it still blew hard, and it was
wondered that no Ships should have come in, but about six
of the clock, word was brought from the Hills, that seven
Sail were in sight bearing away for the Islands. We then
walked up into the Lines, within a Bow-shot of which the
Ships must turn into the Harbour through St. Mary's Sound ;
in a few hours there came into the Pool before the Town
thirty-five Ships, and they all lay so round that a Musket-
shot from the Pier-head would reach the most distant of
them, and many of them ran ashore out of choice, upon the
soft sandy Beach, the rest lay all in a cluster, making as
pretty a Sea-piece as can be imagined."
.From the Castle you will find your way along an excel
lent road to the Western side of the Garrison, from which
you will have a nearer view of St. Agnes.. The Church, the
Parsonage, the Light-house, and underneath it the house of
the light-keepers, are all distinctly seen. You will admire
the Cam which stands at the South West point of the
Garrison ; and then, following the road, which here rejoices
in a delicious Southern aspect, you will presently reach
Your path will frequently be crossed by rabbits, in and
ISLES OF SCILLY. 119
all probability by the deer, with which the Proprietor has
stocked this part of his domains ; and which, it is hoped,
will answer his design of making the Garrison a pleasant
park and an attractive walk both for the resident inhabitants
and for strangers visiting the islands. With the same
object he has had a bench placed here and there for the
convenience and refreshment of visitors. One of these seats
is near the Morning Point; and from the spot on which it
stands you have a beautiful prospect of Peninnis Head
projecting boldly into the deep, Buzza Hill, the Church,
and Porcrasa : and then how pleasant is the promenade
along the Eastern side of the Garrison, which Troutbeck
calls " the mall of Scilly ! " The eye reposes on the green
fields between the Town and Peninnis ; and when the tide
is sufficiently high to cover the rocks and shoals which
abound in the bay, you will be charmed by the beautiful
sheet of water which separates the Garrison from the
opposite coast of St. Mary's.
There are several batteries at different points in the Gar-
rison. It may be interesting to some who see these pages
to know the name of each, as it presents itself in the circuit
of the lines ; and thus to have the means of forming an
opinion of the facilities for putting this part of the island in
defence. I have endeavoured to be exact in ascertaining
the names and situations of the batteries, and the caliber of
the guns ; and, thanks to the kindness of the master gunner,
I do not apprehend any great mistake in my description.
The battery, which lies North East by North, commanding
the Pier and the Pool, is called King George's. It is imme-
120 A WEEK IN THE
diately on your left hand as you enter the garrison and turn
towards the South. There are four eighteen-pounder car-
ronades, dismounted, for the protection of this important
That opposite the officers' quarters, about two hundred
yards to the South, and which may therefore be called the
North Eastern battery is the Duke of Leeds's. Here are
three eighteen-pounder carronades, which would be of for-
midable use if it were ever necessary to bombard the town.
Benham's battery looks due East and is provided with
one eighteen-pounder gun and one nine-pounder. This
would be of good service if ever an enemy should attempt
a descent upon Porcrasa.
The next battery looks South East and is called Morning
Point. You will find here five thirty-two-pounder garrison
guns which effectually defend the approach to St. Mary's
Sound or Porcrasa.
At the Woolpack battery, which faces South, are four
thirty-two-pounder and four eighteen-pounder garrison guns,
one eighteen-pounder being on a wooden carriage and
pointed at the salient angle. From the interior of this
battery you have a good view of the pretty Cam which
stands at this Southern point of the garrison.
Bartholomew's battery looks to the South West and is
defended by three eighteen-pounder garrison guns. These
may be brought into very effective play upon vessels sailing
through the Broad Sound.
At the point near the sea which is due West, there is one
eighteen-pounder. This point is called the Steval.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 121
Charles's battery fronts the North West and has two
thirty-two-pounder to protect the entrance to the Road.
The Store House battery so named from its proximity to
the house in which stores are usually kept, is guarded by
three thirty-two-pounder and one eighteen-pounder. This
battery has a North West aspect by North.
The Master Gunner battery, so named because it affords
protection to that officer's house, looks North-East by North
and has three eighteen-pounder carronades.
The battery to the North East, from which salutes are
sometimes fired, and which would effectually co-operate
with King George's battery in defending the harbour and
the pool, bears the name of Jefferson, and is furnished with
one nine-pounder and two six-pounder guns, and three
It hardly belongs to me to express an opinion of the
\\ isdom shewn in thus fortifying one extremity of St. Mary's,
which, however well garrisoned, could not possibly afford
protection to the many places even in this isle, on which an
enemy might with ease effect a landing. It falls within my
province, rather, to suggest the duty of thankfulness to God
that there is no prospect of these engines of destruction
being called into use, and of prayer to Him that the blessing
of peace may long be vouchsafed to our own and to the
other nations of the world.
THE title of this chapter will, to a certain extent, apprize the
reader that I am conscious of some omissions and defects in
the preceding part of my work. Such is indeed the case.
The impression is strong upon my mind that I have not
done justice to the peculiar beauties of the Isles, and that
much is lacking to render my book acceptable to the public.
To attempt, so far as I can, to supply the further information
which a visiter would require, and thus make my account
more complete, shall be my present object.
Mr. Woodley, I find, has borrowed the derivation of the
word Hugh from Borlase. In his letter on the Isles Borlase
speaks of this peninsula as being called by the inhabitants
" Hue, Heugh, or Hew, signifying a high piece of land
running off into the water." In a note on this passage he
says " There are several places called by this Name, which
run forth into the Tamar river in Cornwall, and during the
Pilchard and Herring Fishery, the man who stands on the
hills to discover the fish, and thence directs the fishing boats
A WEEK IN THE
below, is called the Hewer." In a subsequent note he
reverts to this subject ; and having mentioned the places on
the Tamar distinguished by the name of Heugh, he adds,
" Whether such ridges of land have the name from the use
they are generally applied to in looking out for fish, and the
use, its name from Huer or Huye, (in French signifying to
shout, and make a noise) or from Hue, colour and shew, I
must leave to Etymologists to determine ; certain it is that
such high lands as this in Scilly are called in Scotland
In the second excursion I ought to have said much more
of the beauties of Round Island. Not only is it deserving
of a visit as the home of the Puffins ; but its abrupt and
precipitous sides, as well as its fine earns, especially towards
the North, claim for it a chief place in the bold and striking
scenery of Scilly. Its highest point above mean water is
one hundred and fifty-seven feet, five inches, an elevation of
eighteen feet above Menavawr, and of seventeen feet above
the highest ground on St. Helen's.
Of this Isle too, although my account is sufficiently full
and circumstantial, I have omitted to state that it was a
place " of great resort in times of superstitious pilgrimage."*
Quoting from the earlier commentaries of Leland, Borlase
assumes that St. Lyde's Isle is the same with St. Helen's.
" St. Lide's Isle" says Leland, "wher yn tymes past at her
sepulchre was gret superstition." This is called St. Helen's
by the Islanders, but I suspect the true name to be St. Elid's,
it being the same, as I apprehend, which in the records is
ISLES OF SCILLY. 125
called Insula Sancti Elidii. In a note on this passage he
adds " Leland, or his editors have made this a Female Saint,
but in the Records ' tis otherwise. In the first grant of these
Islands to Francis Godolphin, Esq, 13th of Elizabeth, are
distinctly mentioned (as if two different islands) ' St. Helen's
Isle, Lyde's Isle,' but the word or, or alias, is here wanting,
and it should be written, (at least as I conjecture) St. Helen's
Isle, alias, Lyde's Isle."
The ruins of Charles's Castle on Tresco are one hundred
and fifty-five feet above mean water. The Look-out House
on that island is one hnndred and forty-seven feet; and
Great Ganilly, which I have surmised to be one hundred
feet, is computed from its depression at the Telegraph to be
seven feet four inches above that height. I must here,
therefore, admit and correct the mistake into which I have
fallen in the third excursion, p. 54. The highest point of
St. Helen's is now ascertained to be, not on a level with, but
thirty-two feet, eight inches, higher than the summit of Great
Castle Bryher, whose height has been discovered by
similar calculations from the Light-House on St. Agnes, is
ninety-six feet, three inches. For the accuracy of these
measurements I am dependent on the observations of
Serjeant Steel, to whose kindness I must again express my
In my description of the Western Isles I have neglected
to direct particular attention to Gorregan; and from the
observations of others I am desirous now to supply the
omission. Gorregan is especially deserving notice amidst
126 A WEEK IN THE
the cluster of isles among which it rears its lofty head. " It
is about a mile and a half South West and by South from
Annet Island, is uncultivated and about half a mile round."*
I must here express my fears that I shall be blamed by
some for having ventured on a discussion of any subject
which does not clearly belong to a hand-book or guide :
while I may perhaps incur the censure of others for not
entering fully upon topics, which, though not falling entirely
within the scope of my book, are yet closely connected with
the history of the Isles.
On the subject of Druidical remains I will venture
to offer some few additional remarks. Of the pillars,
which have drawn the visiter's attention, on St. Mary's
and St. Agnes, Borlase speaks " as sometimes idols, some-
times sepulchral monuments, and at other times of various
other uses among the ancients." In his larger work he
enters more fully into the subject of these rude stone mon-
uments. " Religion" he writes " did also prompt them very
early to mark out particular places for worship ; and there
is no room to doubt, but that these Monuments were at first
of the most simple kind, rude, without art, or inscription,
the Authors of them regarding more the thing to be remem-
bered, than the materials or fashion of the Memorial, and
consulting their present exigencies, without any view of
satisfying the curiosity of after-ages, by affixing dates and
names upon their works : they therefore chose such kind of
Monuments as offered most readily, and required only the
good-will, labour, and assistance of that multitude, from
ISLES OF SCILLY. 127
whom they could expect no elegance, invention, or beauty :
of this most ancient sort of Monuments must those be
reckoned, which consist of rude unhewn stones, as offering
themselves in most, or all countries, on the highest hills,
(such as the Ancients generally chose, for their eminency, to
erect their memorials upon) and promising a longer duration
than monuments of a more compounded nature.
"These stones were erected in different number, and
figure, and upon different occasions.
" In Cornwall, they are sometimes found single, as
Obelisks, sometimes two, three, or more, composing one
Monument, sometimes disposed in a lineal, or straight direc-
tion, sometimes in a circle ; often in heaps, or Barrows, and
now and then, three or four large flags, or thin stones, capp'd
with a much larger one, which go by the British name of
In his letter to the Dean, Borlase says " not one Cromleh
(of which sort I doubt not there were many here formerly)
is to be found ; " and, as this is the case, it is unnecessary
to submit any remarks upon cromlehs to the attention of the
reader. Of barrows or burrows, which Borlase proves to
be the more proper name,* sufficient notice has been taken
in previous chapters. I will, therefore, dismiss this curious
enquiry by one more quotation from Borlase, which serves
to point out the origin and use, as well as the abuse, of those
• " I call them Barrows, because, that Name is commonly used ; but in
Cornwall, we call them, much more properly, Burrows ; for Barrow signifies
a Place of Defence, (Dugdale's Warwickshire pag. 782.) but Burrow is
from Byrig, to hide or bury ; and signifies a Sepulchre, as what we call
Barrows, most certainly were,"
128 A WEEK IN THE
single stones, which are found here and elsewhere in Corn-
wall. "Jacob erected several of these Monuments, and
upon different occasions : the first we read of, is that which
he erected at Luz, afterwards by him named Bethel. It was
a Religious Monument, which Jacob (at once full of holy
dread, at the vision of God and his Angels, and inspired
with the most grateful sense of the Divine Goodness, so
plainly declared to him in this gracious Vision) thought he
could not do less than mark the place withall, where he had
been so favoured by Heaven. ' And Jacob rose up early
in the morning, and took the Stone which he had put for his
pillows, and set it up for a pillar, (Matzebah) and poured oil
upon the top of it, and called the name of that place Beth-el,'
vowed to worship the true God only, and that the place
where he had set up this Stone should be the house of God.
As Jacob was at this time young in years, and had never yet
lived from his parents, it may be reasonably inferred, that in
this ceremony of marking out, consecrating and new naming
this place, he instituted nothing new, (as being alone, and
intent upon other things, viz. the length, danger, and issue of
his journey) but followed the customs of his Ancestors, so that
Antiquities of the kind we are now discoursing may be justly
concluded older than the times of this Patriarch.
" As Jacob erected this Religious Memorial at Beth-el,
Joshua set up another of the same kind, and upon a Religi-
ous occasion. He had called all the tribes to Shechem, and
after reciting the message to them, which he had in charge
from God, he exhorted them to serve God only, and they
covenanted so to do. ' And Joshua took a great Stone, and
ISLES OF SCILLY. 129
set it up there under an Oak, that was by the sanctuary of
the Lord ; and Joshua said unto all the people, Behold this
Stone shall be a witness unto us, for it hath heard all the
words of the Lord which he spake uto us, it shall be
therefore a witness unto you lest you deny your God.'
"These are the first simple Memorials erected by true
Believers, on a Religious Account. As for the Gentiles
they set up pillars of the same kind in every country, but
with very different ends, from those of Jacob and Joshua ;
for, as, afterwards, when Arts were invented, and became
applied to the purposes of Superstition in making images,
adorning Altars, constructing Temples they worshipped
Statutes, and Images; so before Arts they worshipped
those Rude Stones. Some think that God's appearing in
a pillar of fire by night, and of a cloud by day, suggested
to the Gentiles the contrivance of setting up Stone Pillars,
and worshipping them, as the resemblance of that form in
which the Deity had chosen to appear. But it is evident,
that the Heathens had this custom of worshipping Stone
Pillars, before the migration of Israel out of Egypt, for
the children of Israel, before they came into Canaan,
are expressly prohibited from worshipping these Idols,
common at that time in Canaan, and therefore not
borrowed from any appearances in the Peregrination. That
Cunaanites worshipped them as Gods, we learn from the
express prohibitions given to the Israelites. ' Ye shall
make you no Idols, nor graven Image, neither rear you up
a standing image, neither shall ye set up any Image of Stone
in your land to bow down unto it.' "
130 A WEEK IN THE
On the price of provisions the reader will probably wish
to have some information ; and the rather, as some change
has taken place in this matter since the publication of Mr,
Woodley's survey. The principal meat sold upon the Isles
throughout the year is beef; and the price has been for some
time past and is now 5£d. per Ib. Mutton is to be obtained
but occasionally, and sells at 6d. Lamb is plentiful in the
early part of the year at 7d., falling afterwards to the same
price as mutton. The large and tolerably regular supply of
meat now enjoyed by residents upon the Isles, contrasts
strongly with the account published by Borlase in 1756.
" About twenty years since, the inhabitants generally lived
on salt victuals which they had from England or Ireland,
and if they killed a bullock here, it was so seldom, that in
one of the best houses in the island, they have kept part of
a bullock killed in September to roast for their christmas
feast. Perhaps you may be curious to know how this beef
was kept for so long a time as three months, fresh enough
to roast ; the way was this, they buried it in salt till the
day they chose to use it, and then it was taken out of the
salt untainted, as two Gentlemen who eat part of it assured
me, and roasted out of compliment to Christmas day,"
In one respect the Isles are in a somewhat less favorable
condition as to meat than in the time of Borlase. There
seems to have been a greater proportion of sheep at the
period of which he writes than at present; it being
rarely possible now to obtain joints of mutton. "Their
sheep" he says " thrive exceedingly, the grass on their Com-
mons being short and dry, and full of the same little Snail
ISLES OF 8CILLY. 131
which gives so good a relish to the Sennan and Phillac
Mutton in the West of Cornwall. The Sheep will fill
themselves upon the Ore- weed as well as the Bullocks."
Fresh butter very rarely exceeds one shilling, and usually
is lOd. per Ib. ; sometimes being as low as 9d. Eggs are
commonly 6d. per dozen, though when plentiful they
are sold at 4d. The cost of fish is very trifling. Ling
properly cured may be bought in almost any quantity at 2^d.
per Ib. The Whiting Pollock, a fish very generally ap-
proved, is common throughout the year. Plaice are almost
always to be had; Soles much more rarely. On the whole
there is not so great a variety and abundance of fish as the
visiter naturally expects. Now and then, however, a tur-
bot, salmon- peel, smelts, and red mullet are offered for sale
at prices exceedingly low.
" Roots of all kinds, Pulse and Sallets grow well ; Dwarf
fruit-trees, Gooseberries, Currants, Raspberries, all shrubs,
and whatever rises not above their hedges do veiy well." *
In the orchards belonging to the principal farms there is a
large variety of apple-trees, usually very productive. The
largest tree upon the islands is a mulberry, which bears
abundantly; and a fig-tree, growing in the same garden,
yields plentifully its delicious fruit, which ripens well.
The chief source of income to the islanders is, as might
be presumed, from the sea. There are fifteen good pilot
boats belonging to the isles, the owners of which are con-
stantly on the look-out for ships. Besides these not fewer
than fifty vessels sail from this port, the owners ;md m;i-i
132 A WEEK IN THE
of which reside on the Isles. Of these vessels the greater
part have been built by Scillonians. The number of ship-
wrights is very large, the trade of building ships having
been exceedingly brisk during the last six or eight years ;
and many vessels have been launched in that period, reflect-
ing great credit on the ship-builders and on the men
employed in their construction. That I may exhibit a true
and accurate account of the present condition of the
Islanders, I must observe, in connection with this subject,
that there is at this time partial, though I trust only tem-
porary, distress among the shipwrights. The suspension of
work in the yards has, of necessity, caused great anxiety
and uneasiness to this body of men ; many of whom have
gone elsewhere in search of employment. It has followed as
an almost natural consequence of the activity and enterprize
in building vessels, which have of late prevailed in Scilly,
that many have been tempted to learn the trade of ship-
wrights, who would have shown greater foresight in going
to sea, or labouring on the land. Such alternations,
however, are to a certain degree unavoidable ; and it is to
be hoped that new vessels may be ere long put upon the
stocks, and full employment given to this branch of industry.
There are good schools on the four principal islands. To
the education of the young the Proprietor has directed much
attention ; and the children, trained under his care, display
great intelligence, and attain considerable proficiency
in useful and religious knowledge. The boys and girls
attend one and the same school, a mistress being appointed
at St. Mary's for the especial purpose of teaching the girls
ISLES OF SCILLY. ' 133
needlework. The number of children, including those in
the Infant Schools, who are receiving instruction in all
that is requisite for their station in society, bears a large
proportion to the adult population. The scale of payments
is arranged with a regard to the circumstances of the
parents; some children are received free of any charge,
and some at the small sum of one penny per week.
To the greater prevalence of education among all classes
we must ascribe the progress of the Islanders in the
different departments of useful and honourable employment.
I have already spoken of the skill shewn by our ship-
builders, and ship-wrights. It may also be told to the
credit of the Scillonians, that four young persons, who
had received their education on the Isles, have been trained,
one at St. Mark's College, Chelsea ,and three at the Home
and Colonial Infant School Society, for the work of
teaching. They are now engaged in the care and manage-
ment of schools, the former at Gloucester j of the latter, two
;it St. Mary's, and one at Tenby, in South Wales, and give
unqualified satisfaction to the directors and managers
under whom they are labouring. There are also at this
time three pupil-teachers, two boys, and one girl, who have
just passed from the rank of scholars to the higher position
of candidates for the office of instructors.
The Isles have been visited by two of her Majesty's
Inspectors of schools ; and from their report, a more full
and exact acquaintance with the advantages enjoyed by the
Islanders in the important business of education, may be
134 A WEEK IN THE
Borlase speaks of the Scillonians as " very apt at naviga-
tion ; " and it ought to be stated, while we are speaking of
education, that this very essential branch of instruction is
not overlooked. There are several very young men, masters
of vessels, sailing out of this port ; and I have never heard
a doubt expressed as to their qualifications for this respon-
To those who have formed their opinion of the mental
and moral qualities of the Islanders, from the letter of
Borlase, it may be interesting to learn that they cannot
now be charged with the gross superstition which he found
prevailing among them; and which is so humorously
described by him in pp. 31 — 33.
I am far from denying the existence of such a spirit
among the Scillonians. I could mention instances, ridicu-
lous enough, in which it has come under my own observation;
but education, and a larger acquaintance with the world
has much lessened the amount of superstition; and will,
doubtless, more and more effectually counteract and subdue
feelings, which have their origin and their chief strength in
Persons well acquainted with Scilly, will observe a
difference in the stature and appearance of the inhabitants
of the several Isles ; more particularly in the male part of
the population. Those born on St. Martin's are generally
tall and thin; those on St. Agnes, are short and stout.
The natives of Tresco, who have some remarkable points
of difference from those of Bryher, are between the two :
taller, generally speaking, than the men of St. Agnes;
ISLES OF SCILLY. 135
shorter than those of St. Martins.
The practice of burning the oreweed to make kelp, it
is almost superfluous to state, is wholly discontinued. It
was relinquished nearly thirty years ago. The sea-weed
is extensively used as manure ; and it is a great advantage
to the farmers that, as there is an almost unlimited quantity,
so they enjoy every facility, in the way of roads and
openings to the beach, for removing it to their lands.
Borlase is quite correct in his remark that " there is no
adder or venomous creature of any kind to be found in
these Islands," so that you may range " through the high
grass, briers, and ferns with the greater boldness." It is,
however, still true, that many houses are infested by
swarms of cockroaches.
A road-rate, and a poor-rate, neither of which is heavy,
are the only taxes payable in the Islands. Nor is there,
God be praised, any great amount of poverty amongst us,
as most of the families are able to procure a supply of fish
sufficient for their winter's store ; and, when potatoes are
abundant, they do not care for much besides. Some idea
of the general prosperity of the inhabitants may be formed
from the circumstance, that it is scarcely possible to secure
the services of a day-labourer. Nor are the Scillonians
at all willing to engage themselves as labourers upon the
land; so that many of the farmers are obliged to hire
servants from other parts of Cornwall.
On the whole, it may be questioned whether there is
in any part of England, a more general appearance, or a
larger measure of comfort and respectability in the same
136 A WEEK IN THE
class of life, than may be found here. It is curious to
compare the probable value of this property now with the
estimation in which it was held in former ages. On this
point we will consult the testimony of Borlase, from whose
pages may be gathered very curious and interesting
" In Henry the Third's time we find Drew de Barrentine
Governor of these Islands for the King from the year 1248
to 1251,* and Bailiffs under him, and King Henry the
Third gave him ten Pounds yearly Lands in Scilly by Deed.
"In the time of Edward the First, these Islands were in
a declining condition, their want of security making a want
of all things ; for we find a representation made by the
Monks to this King, recited in the Letters of Protection,
(Monasticon pag. 1002.) 'That by the frequent resort of
Mariners of all nations to that place, the Priory for want of
proper Defence, was so damaged and impoverished that the
Prior was not able to repair it, nor to perform the requisite
Duties of Church Service.' Edward the First therefore,
grants his Letters of Protection to the Prior and Priory,
Monks, Chaplains, Servants, Possessions, and everything
belonging thereunto. These Letters were in general ad-
dressed to all Persons of Dignity and Command under the
King, but particularly to the Constable of the Castle in the
Isle of Ennour in Scilly, who seems therefore to have had
the chief authority here in the time of Edward the First.
This Constable I suppose was Ranulph de Blankminster
who (temp. Ed. I. pat. 35.*) held the Castle of Ennort
* See Heath of Scilly, p. 181. "Heath, ibid, p 186.
t Otherwise called Euinour, or the great Island.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 137
in the Islands of Scilly by the service of finding and
maintaining twelve armed men at all times, for keeping
the Peace in those parts : He held the Islands of Scilly
also of the King, paying yearly at Michaelmas three Hun-
dred Puffins, or six shillings and eight-pence, and 'John
de Allet * held all his Lands and Tenements in Scilly of
Ralph Blanckminster, by Knight's Service, and by being
Keeper of the said Ranulph's Castle, and by other personal
services by himself or by two men.' '
" By an Inquisition in the first of Richard the Third,
A. D. 1484, I find the said Islands were yearly worth 'in
peaceable times forty shillings, in times of war nothing.'
To such a low condition were they reduced in the time of
Richard the Third. We found them declining in the Wars of
Edward I. and Edward III, but by the fatal consequences
of the long Civil War betwixt York and Lancaster, they
seem to have been on the Brink of being utterly forsaken.
What remained to the Laiety was little or nothing worth,
and the Portion of the Religious could not be in a much
The historian has not failed to trace the gradual rise and
improvement of this portion of the British dominions ;
and the visitor will, I think, be glad to read his observations.
" From private hands they came to the Crown by exchange
in Queen Mury's time ; f but in the Thirteenth of Elizabeth
• Heath, p. 187.
t " Haec Insula tenta fuit per redd. 300 Puffins, et postea per excambium
derenit ad coronam temp. Mariiu Regime." Tenures in the Dutchy of
Cornwall (belonging to John Anstis, Esq.; late Garter King at Arms) taken
the Seventieth of James the First."
138 A WEEK IN THE
were granted by her to Francis Godolphin, Esq. ; and from
his time we may date the Recovery of these Islands, little
Colonies (like great Empires) having their sickly times, from
which they are sometimes restored, and in which they some-
" Queen Elizabeth saw their importance, and having the
Spaniards, then the most powerful nation by sea in the
world to deal with, ordered and encouraged the above
mentioned Francis Godolphin (Knighted by her in 1580,
and made Lord Lieutenant of the County of Cornwall) to
improve this station. Star Castle was begun, and finished
in 1593. At the same time were built a Curtain and some
Bastions on the same Hill, and more intended, which are
now near finished ; Enough was done at that time to guard
the Harbour tolerably well, and the Pool just below the
Castle : This Castle being built and properly garrison'd,
Houses were soon built below the Lines upon the edge of
the Pool, and Inhabitants were encouraged to settle here,
seeing the place convenient for Ships bound into either
channel to touch at, commodious for fishing, secure from
Pirates, and national Enemies, and Land cheap and im-
proveable by means of the plenty of Ore-weed and Sea-sand.
Before Queen Elizabeth, the Inhabitants were so few, and
the Value of the whole Lands so inconsiderable, that Sir
Francis Godolphin was to pay ten Pounds only, as yearly
Rent to the Crown, but the safety of the Islands being so
well provided for, the Interest and Popularity of the Godol-
phins, uniting with the conveniences of the situation, brought
here such a number of people, that all notice of the old
ISLES OF SCILLY. 139
Inhabitants was soon lost, through an universal attention to
the interests of the new. It may surprize one at first coming
to find so few places with British names, but it must be
observed that the new coiners had no relation to the old
Inhabitants, nor consequently any affection for their Customs
or Language, but, as to avoid confusion, all people must
have names for Places, as well as Persons, it was soon found
to be a distinction easier learnt by the generality to call the
Lands after the names of the Occupiers, than to retain the
more uncouth, and to the vulgar, insignificant old names.
Hence it is that so many modern family names are affixed
to places.* This was a new beginning as it were, to the
Settlements at Scilly, but like all other new Settlements, it
requires Time for the Lands to be cultivated, the Harbours
to be fenced, and the People to increase. From its first
Grant to the Godolphins it has been gradually rising ; the
Inhabitants are considerably more than they were eighty
years since ; some Islands which had then few or no Inhabi-
tants, or House, or Field, have now many ; their Buildings
and Numbers are still increasing, their Lands improved, but
still capable of much improvement."
That improvement has been enjoyed by the Isles and their
inhabitants of late years to a greater extent than would have
been anticipated by Borlase. There is still room for improve-
ment as there ever will be. But a comparison of the present
• "Tims, Bant's Kara had its name from the Family of the Bants,
Bosow Hill from the Bosows ; and the Tenements now call'd Watt's, Barn-
field's, Leg's, Toll, Thomas, &c., from the Sin.ames of the Holders; These
were names familiar to the newly settled Inhabitants and therefore readily
preferred to the British, which, however it mus-t be allowed by all Etymolo-
gists, were generally imposed with great propriety and expression."
140 A WEEK IN THE
state of the Isles of Scilly with their condition fifteen or
twenty years ago will suggest abundant causes of gratitude
mingled with surprize. The inhabitants, especially of the
off-islands, were then poor, dependent, untaught. They are
now living in the enjoyment of many comforts, independent,
and having all the blessings of a good education within their
reach. There is not only no room for the doleful accounts
given by Mr. Woodley of the extensive distress felt in the
off islands of Scilly : no occasion for the appeal which he
makes to the sympathies of the benevolent and the assistance
of a paternal government; but however strange it may
appear, it is nevertheless true that the Islanders have de-
rived no permanent advantage from the large subscriptions
raised upon their account and intended for their benefit. It
is matter of great difficulty to account for the expenditure of
the sums collected from all parts of England for them.
Their recovery from a low and debasing state of poverty has,
by the blessing of God, been wrought out by themselves,
under the wise and firm superintendence of the Proprietor,
Mr. Augustus Smith. All, who have an intimate acquaint-
ance with the islands, will acknowledge that a wondrous
and most beneficial change has been wrought in their con-
dition and prospects, since he has had the direction and
control of their affairs. The subdivision of farms, in order
that all the members of a family might live upon the land,
has been altogether stopped. Very recently, when by the
decease of former tenants a fitting opportunity was offered,
the farms were, to a great extent, re-arranged and re-dis-
tributed. Land long uncultivated and unbroken, if ever
ISLES OF SCILLY. 141
before tilled, is now being brought under the plough.
Excellent roads are either completed or in progress in all
the principal islands. Efficient schools offer the blessings of
education to the young ; and those, who are of an age to
enter upon the active business of life, are very sufficiently
qualified to get their own living and to do their duty in
that state of life into which it shall please God to call them.
I can scarcely conceive a better wish for the Scillonians
than this ; that they may enjoy as great an amount of moral
and religious, as they now enjoy, of worldly prosperity ; that
the mercies, which they have so largely received, may
awaken in them feelings of love and thankfulness to Him
by whom those mercies have been bestowed. Only let
them be as diligent in serving God and doing His will, as
they are in the prosecution of their worldly business : only
let them attend to the precepts of the apostle, " Let broth-
erly love continue : * "Be kindly affectioned one to another
with brotherly love ; in honor preferring one another ; not
slothful in business ; fervent in spirit ; serving the Lord." f
Then will the sunshine of heaven's best favour rest upon
their land, and " the blithe music of contentment be heard
in their vallies : " for " happy is that people that is in such
a case : yea, happy is that people, whose God is the
• Heb. xiii. 1. f Rom. xil. 10, 11. } Pa. CXLIV. !.">.
THERE can be no question that the Isles of Scilly are
exceedingly healthy. Of this a sufficient proof perhaps
is afforded by the great age to which the inhabitants attain.
There are now living upon the Islands, many persons
considerably above eighty years of age ; and more than
one above ninety. Between Christmas 1842, and Mid-
summer 1849, forty-two persons were buried in this parish,
whose united ages amounted to 3579 years ; giving an
average of 85 years and very nearly a quarter to each.
Of these, two reached the age of 97, two of 92, two of 91,
and one of 90.
Through the kindness of our medical man, J. G.
Moyle, Esq., I am enabled to lay before the reader, a
synopsis of the Births and Deaths, (from all, and from
specified, causes) in the Isles of Scilly, between the first
of January, 1838, and the thirty-first of December, 1847,
a period of ten years.
A WEEK IN THE
Males ... 378
Females. . 377
TOTAL . . 755
CAUSES OF DEATH.
All causes 409
Deaths from specified causes 394
Zymotic (Epidemic, Endemic,) or contagious diseases. 42
Sporadic Diseases, viz. —
Dropsy, Cancer, &c 10
Brain, spinal marrow, nerves and senses 59
Heart and Blood Vessels 9
Lungs and Organs of Respiration 85
Stomach, Liver, and Bowels 28
Diseases of the Kidneys and other urinary organs. . 5
Childbirth and Diseases of the uterus 4
Rheumatism, Diseases of Bones, Joints, &c. ... 4
Old age . . . , 53
Suicide. .... 2
ISLES OF SCILLY.
Deaths from the most important special causes.
Small Pox .... 3
Scarlatina .... 24
Hooping Cough . . 17
Diarrhoea .... 6
Dysentery .... 4
Tetanus ... 2
Bronchitis .... 3
Pneumonia .... 5
.Peripneumonia ... 2
Phthisis or Consumption 68
Childbirth .... 4
Sudden Deaths ... 2
Rheumatism .... 1
Old age 53
Cholera . . .
Hydrocephalus . .
Convulsions . .
Paralysis . . .
Epilepsy . . .
Cephalitis . .
From an inspection of these Tables, it will be seen that
Phthisis is by far the most frequent disease in these Islands;
though not more common here than in most parts of
England. It is somewhat singular, that of the sixty-eight
persons whose death was caused by this disease, thirty-four
were males, and thirty-four were females. The prevalence
of this disorder is to be attributed to variation of climate,
the Scrofulous Diathesis, and, particularly among the
females, sedentary habits.
It will also be seen that the Isles are remarkably free
from Typhus, and other diseases of an Asthenic character ;
146 A WEEK IN THE
and that they are not often visited by Epidemics.
In connection with this subject, it may be observed, that
the Islands are, through God's mercy, plentifully supplied
with water. It cannot be said that they suffer, to any very
serious extent, from drought. There are, moreover, upon
St. Agnes six wells of fresh water ; upon Sampson, one ;
in Bryher, six ; in Tresco, seven ; in St. Helen's, one ; in
Te'an, one; in St. Martin's, five; in St. Mary's, above thirty.
Lentevern well in Watermill Lane ; the well at Sallakey,
nearly opposite the farm-house; the well in Holy Vale,
at the back of the farm house ; and the Moor-well, opposite
Permellin, are running wells, and chiefly famed for their
purity and softness. The depth, at which the springs lie
below the surface of the ground, varies between four feet,
and thirty feet. The attention of Borlase was drawn to
this important point ; and he thus writes, " There is a good
well at Holy-vale, even with the surface, a fons perennis,
and a deep one in the Lines belonging to the Master
Gunner, the Water of which, compared with that of the
celebrated Gun-well of Trescaw, I found, by my Hydrom-
eter, to be of equal lightness."*
* Letter, p. 79.
RARE birds are frequently seen and captured in the Isles
of Scilly; and several contributions of great value have
been made from this place to the extensive collection of
British birds, formed by Edward Hearle Rodd, Esq., at
From Yarrell's history of British Birds, and from the
communications of Mr. Rodd, I have derived the informa-
tion which I here lay before the reader. To the kindness
with which Mr. Rodd acceded to my request, that he would
supply me with these interesting notices of birds now in
his possession, and to the trouble which he has taken in
revising this paper, I am under great obligations, and beg
thus to tender to him my best thanks.
The Isles of Scilly are peculiarly adapted by their
situation so far to the West, and by their precipitous, rocky
character, for the permanent residence of many among our
well-known British water-birds. Nor are they less likely to
be visited by some of the rarer land-birds.
148 A WEEK IN THE
The interest which has been directed of late years to this
branch of Natural History, has extended to us ; and the
visits of experienced ornithologists have so far drawn
attention to this subject, that the occurrence of any unusual
or remarkable bird does not fail to attract the notice of the
As might be expected, the Wafer, or rather the Sea Birds
form the division of greater general interest; but several
rare Land Birds, not before noticed, have within the last few
years, been observed in the Islands.
In this division may be mentioned the rarest of the three
British Shrikes, (Laniadce) the Woodchat, (Lanius Rufus) a
mature specimen of which was caught in a fishing boat
near the Islands, in the spring of 1840.* Of this bird
several specimens were obtained during the last Autumn.
The adult specimen, and also one in immature plumage
are preserved in the collection of Mr. Rodd.
The rose-coloured Starling, (Pastor Roseus) another
beautiful and rare species, has been obtained from the
Islands ;f and in the year 1847, several instances of the
Hoopoe, (Upupa Epops) a bird remarkable at once for its
elongated crest, its beautiful plumage, and graceful form,
occurred and were captured. J
The Turtle Dove, (Columba Turtur) is commonly observed
* See preface to Tamil's British birds. t Ibid. Vol. ii, p. 52.
\ Ibid. vol. ii, p. 171.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 149
here in the Summer months; and the Stock Dove,(Columba
(Enas) has in two instances been obtained from the Islands.
This circumstance deserves the more especial notice, as its
congeners, the Ring Dove, Rock Dove, and Turtle Dove
are recorded in the Cornish Fauna, whilst the Stock Dove
is not known.
Another very rare bird was observed at Tresco, in the
years 1848 and 1849 ; and, from its remarkable and bril-
liant yellow plumage, with black wings, no doubt exists of
its being the Golden Oriole, (Oriolus Galbula.) The
probability is increased by the circumstance of an adult
specimen having been killed some years ago at the Land's
Mr. Rodd also obtained last year a very valuable addition
to his collection from Scilly, in the Scops-eared Owl, (Strix
Scops.) This bird is remarkable for its diminutive size, and
also for the beautifully pencilled brown and grey shadings
of its plumage. The Short-eared Owl, Strix Brachyotos,
periodically visits the Islands, appearing with Woodcocks
in the autumn.
During the last Autumn, the period at which the migra-
tion of our smaller British birds to Southern regions takes
place, the Isles were visited with hosts of our smaller warblers.
Amongst them were observed the three British species of
Willow Wrens, ( Sylviadce) viz. : the Wood Wren, the common
Willow Wren, and the Chiff-chaff. The former species is
unknown in the West of Cornwall; but the whole family
are lovely in form, and delicate in their habits and pursuits.
Another little migratory bird, quite new to Cornwall, the
150 A WEEK IN THE
Reed Wren, (Salicaria Arnudinacca) closely allied to the
Sedge Warbler, (a well-known bird which frequents moist
ditches, and which sings in the night,) has also been found
here in several instances.
The Pied Fly-catcher, (Muscicapa luctuosa) another species
hitherto unknown in Cornwall, was also captured together
with black Red-starts, (Phcenicura Tithys) common Red-
starts, (Pkcenicura Ruticilla) black-cap and garden Fauvettes,
( Curruca ) all of which, except the black-cap, are uncommon
in the West of Cornwall. Their appearance at Scilly, may
perhaps be accounted for, by the prevalence at the time of
a strong Southerly gale.
I must not omit to mention the occurrence, amongst the
company of migratorial visitants, of that beautiful bird, the
Wryneck, (Yunx Torqmlla) which was captured at the
same time. Quails are occasionally seen on the Isles, and
Landrails may be found every summer in suitable localities.
Some of the common British Hawks are permanently
resident on the Isles, such as the Sparrow-Hawk and Kes-
trel ; but a noble addition was made last year to our Fauna
in the Osprey, (Pandion.) Another large hawk was ob-
served at the same time, which from the yellow markings of
its head and neck was supposed to be the Marsh Harrier,
more commonly known as the Moor Buzzard.
In thus referring to the rarer species of Land-birds, which
have occurred in these Isles, I have not thought it necessary
to attempt a minute history of the ornithology of this out-
lying part of Cornwall. The same remark will apply to the
Sea-birds. Speaking generally of the birds which meet the
ISLES OF SCILLY. 151
eye of the observer, it will not be difficult to recognise the
usual way-side birds, such as House-sparrows, Hedge-spar-
rows, Thrushes, common Wrens, Red-breasts, Sky-larks,
Stonechats, Wheatears and others.
I will close this notice of the Land-birds by a curious
extract from the Journal of Gilbert White, of Selborne,
which is published by Yarrell in his article upon the Wood-
cock, " a gentleman writes word from St Marys, Scilly,
that in the night between the 10th and llth of the month,
the wind being west, there fell such a flight of Woodcocks
within the walls of the garrison, that he himself shot, and
conveyed home, twenty-six couple, besides three couple
which he wounded, but did not give himself the trouble to
retrieve. On the following day, the 12th, the wind contin-
uing west, he found but few. This person further observes,
that easterly and northerly winds only have usually been
remarked as propitious in bringing Woodcocks to the Scilly
Islands. So that he is totally at a loss to account for this
western flight, unless they came from Ireland. As they
took their departure in the night between the llth and 12th,
the wind still continuing west, he supposes they were gone
to make a visit to the counties of Cornwall and Devonshire.
From circumstances in the letter, it appears that the ground
within the lines of the garrison abounds with furze. Some
Woodcocks settled in the street of St. Mary's, and ran into
the houses and out-houses." * The Isles are annually visited
towards the autumn by considerable numbers of this choice
and favourite bird.
Vol ii.. pp. 580, 7.
152 A WEEK IN THE
In treating on the Water Birds of Scilly, a larger field
presents itself; and, as might be expected, this division in
the ornithology of the Isles presents an important character-
istic feature in their Natural History. The breeding season,
comprising the months of May and June, is the most
interesting period for watching the habits of our sea-birds*
From the wild hoarse scream and " kuckle" of the
various gulls, the mingled sounds of the Puffins, Razor-bills,
Guillemots, Oyster-catchers, Shags, Terns, &c., to the tiny
musical whistle of the Ring Plover, the naturalist will have
abundant opportunities of observing the busy and anxious
scenes in which the various sea-birds are engaged.
Perhaps the most interesting and at the same time the
most beautiful family of Birds which frequent our isles, is
that of the Terns, (Sturnidce ) nearly all of which breed
annually on the grass banks, sands and shingle, at the
different isles, and especially at Annet. The Terns are
remarkable for their light and elegant forms, and for the
unsullied purity of their white and light blue plumage.
The Roseate Tern, (Sterna Dougallii} especially deserves
the attention of the visiter, as presenting, more particularly
in the breeding season, a most delicate and lovely rose-co-
loured tint on the breast, varying in intensity in certain
lights, and exhibiting a peculiarly beautiful, glowing, hectic
blush. This colour is so delicate and evanescent that it
quickly disappears after death, if the skin is exposed to a
ISLES OF SCILLY. 153
The Terns, which have been observed at Scilly, comprise
the Common, Sandwich, Arctic, and Roseate Tern.* These
all breed in the Isles. Their eggs are all similar in general
appearance, the colour being clay- yellow, blotched, and
spotted with black.
Of the Gulls, (Larida) the most remarkable is the largest
known British species, the Great Black-backed Gull, (Larus
marinus) which annually breeds on the high rocks of Gor-
regan. The Lesser black-backed Gull and the Herring
Gull also breed at Scilly ; and it may be remarked that the
eggs of the two latter are so similar in size and colouring
that it is almost impossible to distinguish them. The Great
Black-backed Gull is restless and angry in the breeding
season ; and hovering beyond gun-shot above her nest seeks
to scare away intruders by her wild, hoarse scream.
We are visited occasionally with some interesting species
belonging to the Heron tribe. The first I will mention is
the Spoon-bill, (Platalea Leucorodia.) A specimen of this
bird has been killed at Tresco. It was without the plumes
which adorn the adult bird. In the last week of May in
the present year another specimen was shot at St. Mary's.
Of this Mr. Rodd writes, " It is by far the most adult of
all the examples that have come under my notice as Cornish
specimens. The occipital crest is developed, which has not
been the case in others that I have seen, and there are other
marks which denote its being an old and mature bird."
One of the most beautiful of the British Herons has been
captured on the Isles, viz., the Squacco Heron, (Ardea
• Yarrell, Vol. ill. p. 102.
154 A WEEK IN THE
Comata.) This bird was observed in a great many instances
in the Land's End district during the last year.
Another curious and interesting species of the Heron
family was also obtained in 1849, viz., the ?sight Heron,
(Ardea Nycticorax.) This bird was in beautiful plumage,
with three, long, subulated, snow-white feathers, proceeding
from the back of the head.
The large Curlew, Turnstones, Oyster-catchers,* the latter
generally known by the name of Sea-pies, are constant
residents; while the Common Sandpiper and the Red-shank
Sandpiper have both been seen at the Islands. The Oyster-
catchers and Ring Dotterels breed annually at Scilly ; and
their eggs may be found, without difficulty, on the loose
shingle above high-water mark, with scarcely any preparation
of a nest except a slight indentation. The Ring Dotterel's
egg is very beautiful both in shape and in the arrangement of
its colours. From its general resemblance to the sea-shore
pebbles, which is also characteristic of the Terns' and Oyster
Catchers' eggs, a casual observer would probably never
notice them. Eggs of the Ring Dotterel have been obtained
in April, a circumstance which shews how early this bird
breeds. It has not been clearly ascertained that the Turn-
stone has bred at Scilly, although its appearance in the
summer months would seem to indicate a probability that
such is the case.
Guillemots, Razor-bills, Puffins, Storm Petrels, Common
Shearwaters, all breed on the Isles. The Common Guillemot,
(Uria Troile) is remarkable Jbr two properties in its egg.
* Yarrell, Vol. ii. p. 435.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 155
The first is, that although the bird itself is not larger than a
Bantam fowl, the egg is as large as that of a Turkey : the
second property is that no two eggs are alike. They vary
from a light verdigris green to white, more or less, and
sometimes not at all, spotted with black.
The Canada Goose has been shot in the Isles ; * the
Puffin or Sea-Parrot is more common than on the coast of
Cornwall, f "Pujfinus major is very well known to the
Scillonians, by whom it is called Hackbolt. They inform
me it is a constant visitant in the latter part of autumn, and
represent its manners on the water as resembling those of
P. anglorm % the Manx Shearwater."
In the same valuable work there is a most interesting
account of the Manx or Common Shearwater, from the pen
of Mr. D. W. Mitchell, who some years since visited these
Islands in pursuit of ornithological science; and whose
reputation as a naturalist has placed him in an important
situation in the Zoological Society of London. The descrip-
tion of the scene of nidification of this bird is so graphically
and elegantly given that I shall venture to transcribe some
portions of it.
" To the westward of St. Agnes, in the Scilly group, lies
a barren island called Annet. Its northern shore is abrupt
and craggy; it gradually slopes towards the south, and
narrows into a sort of peninsula, where the sandy soil is
rich enough to produce a dense growth of short ferns.
Here is the strong-hold of the Shearwaters. Sit down on a
• Yarrcll. Vol. iii. p. 92. t Ibid. Vol. iii. p. 303.
Ibid. Vol. iii. pp. 504, 5.
156 A WEEK IN THE
rock which commands the little territory, and you will see
nothing but the Terns, who have a station on the higher and
central part of the island. You may wait all a sunny
day in June, but not a Shearwater will you see on land or
water. There are plenty near you all the time, however, as
you may ascertain by the odour which issues from the first
burrow you look into among the ferns. As soon as the sun
is down you will see a little party of five or six flitting
silently across the sound, or steering out to sea. The latest
fishers from the colony of Terns are coming home from the
sandy shallows, five or six miles away, with their throats
and beaks crammed with Lance-fish, when the Shearwaters
begin to wake. You will not see them come out of their
holes ; you first catch sight of them skimming round the
corner of a rock close to the water. Perhaps they will have
a great gathering, such as I encountered one evening in
' Smith's Sound.' There was a congregation of at least three
hundred, in the middle of the tide-way, washing, dipping,
preening feathers, and stretching wings, evidently just awake,
and making ready for the night's diversion. As I wanted a
few specimens more than I had dug out of the burrows, I
ran my boat well up to them, and when they rose, got as
many as I wished, besides a few unfortunate cripples who
were only winged, and proved, by their agility in swimming
and diving, a good deal too much for my boatmen. I think
a good dog would have no chance with them. They allowed
me to come quite close. They sit low in the water ; they
make no noise when disturbed, though in their holes they
are eloquent enough, the Scillonian synomyns of Crew and
ISLES OF SCILLY. 157
Cockathodon being derived from the guttural melodies they
pour forth as the spade approaches the end in which the egg
is deposited."* The reader will find other interesting de-
tails respecting this bird in the work from which I have so
The Storm Petrel,f the smallest web-footed bird, which
braves our stormy seas out of sight and apparent reach of
land, lays its two beautiful white eggs, encircled with a zone
of rufous yellow towards the larger end, under cover of the
over-hanging rocks of the more inaccessible islets. Mr.
Rodd thus describes the habits of this little mariner, as he
observed them during a fishing excursion in Mount's Bay.
"In the summer of 1834, when at a distance of six or
seven miles from shore, in Mount's Bay fishing, on a per-
fectly calm summer's evening, ten or twelve Stormy Petrels,
just before sunset, continued flying about our boat, apparently
regardless of men or of any danger. We several times
endeavoured to strike them with our oars ; but, instead of
exhibiting caution, the bird just struck at would fly almost
in our faces and around our heads : and if we could have
kept the boat stationary, I am certain they might have been
caught by the hand. They continued hawking about with
an abrupt and wavering flight, not unlike that of the Bank
Swallow, sometimes near the surface of the sea, at other
times pausing on the surface, touching, but not alighting on
the water ; then mounting up to the height of eight or ten
feet, and wheeling to and fro, evidently watching the surface
of the water, and perhaps the little insects and flies which
• Yarrell. pp. 509, 510. t Ibid. Vol. iii. p. 625.
158 A WEEK IN THE
sport about at this season of the year at a distance from
land. They appeared at times to be in pursuit of moving
objects, as they were dodging and turning continually and
abruptly like the swallow-tribe. Now and then they appear-
ed to take a momentary rest upon the water; but they
were instantly up again, fanning the surface and sporting
about as before. I never observed in any instance their
wings entirely closed when on the water ; nor did I perceive
any positive swimming action. Their alighting resembled
the action of gulls, when they dip in the sea suddenly and
rise again, pausing only to secure an object of food."
The most common of the Sanderlings, generally so called,
is the Dunlin, Tringa variabilis a bird remarkable for the
change which its plumage undergoes in the summer and
winter months. During the summer the back of the bird
is dark, with rufous edges, and the belly has across it an
irregular patch of black. In the winter the whole of the
upper plumage is ash-grey and all the under parts are pure
Mr. Mitchell succeeded in capturing, when at the Isles,
one of the rarest British birds, called the Pectoral Sand-
piper, ( Tringa pectoralis) a species scarcely known in the
British Isles; and this specimen is now in the British
Museum. This is perhaps one of the most interesting facts
connected with the ornithological history of the County of
Cornwall. This bird was submitted to Mr. Yarrell's inspec-
tion ; and he has referred minutely to this example, in his
work on British Birds under the article, Pectoral Sandpiper.
"D. W. Mitchell, Esq., of Penzance, sent me in June, 1840,
ISLES OF SCILLY. 159
a coloured drawing of the natural size, and a fully detailed
description, with measurements, of a Sandpiper, shot by
himself on the 27th of the previous month, while the bird
was resting on some sea-weed within a few yards of the
water, on the rocky shore of Annet, one of the uninhabited
islands at Scilly. On the following day another example
was seen, but became so wild after an unsuccessful shot,
that it took off to another island and escaped altogether.
The close accordance of the specimen obtained with the
description of Tringa pectoralis in summer plumage in the
Fourth Part of M. Temminck's Manual, led Mr. Mitchell to
a true conclusion as to the species and its novelty and
interest in this country."*
J. N. R. Millett, Esq., of Perizance, has communicated
to me an interesting fact with regard to the Manx Shear-
water, which it would be wrong to with-hold from the
reader. " During a visit to the Isles in 1826, 1 tried" he
states "for several successive days to get a shot at the
Shearwaters, but in vain. They invariably kept just out of
gun-shot, and I began to despair of success. I heard,
however, accidentally, that flocks of these birds were daily
seen about noon, sitting quietly on the water in St. Mary's
Sound. Thither I proceeded without delay, and found
numerous groups of them scattered about in the tideway,
evidently reposing after their morning's fishing at sea. They
allowed me to approach within gun-shot without any appa-
rent alarm, when I succeeded in obtaining some choice
specimens. In crossing the Sound on several occasions
• Yarrell. Vol. ii. p. 035.
160 ISLES OF SCILLY.
afterwards, about the same hour of the day, I invariably
witnessed similar gatherings of these birds : and from the fact
of never having before or since, seen a single bird of this
description on the water, although I have seen very many on
the wing, and at various distances from land, I am led to infer
that the habit of the Shearwater is to remain at rest, and
probably asleep, on the water during the mid-day, the
period of digestion, and to confine their fishing exclusively
to the morning and evening."
A GENERAL VIEW OF THE
OF THE SEA ROUND THE 8CILLY ISLANDS.*
\\ JIEREVER animals are sought for, there are several
conditions of importance, upon which depend not only
the result itself, but even the probability of it. The
geological formation of the islands, the climate and the
strength of the tidal currents, may fairly be called the most
important regulators ; and before I give a brief sketch of
the marine zoology, I cannot but draw the attention of the
reader to these three constituents of the physical and zoolo-
gical character of the Islands.
With regard to the Geology of the isles there will be found
in this volume a most valuable paper on the subject ; so that
I have only to draw the consequences which result from
the granitic formation on the occurrence of animal life.
With very few exceptions, this formation is one of the most
* For this contribution to my work I am indebted to the kindness of
J. Victor Cams Ks(|. M. D., who passed the spring and part of the summer
in the Isles, with tue express object of exploring these troublesome seas. A
fuller account of his researches will be found elsewhere. Dr. Carus, who
carried with him the affectionate regret of all who knew him, left the Isles
towards the latter end of August, 1850.
162 A WEEK IN THE
unfavourable to the zoologist. He finds barren rocks, on
which nothing but the irresistible force of the water seems
to have any effect. In observing them more closely, how-
ever, he sees that life, even where it appears in its humblest
forms, is stronger than the rude power of the elements, and
he discovers animals, though few in number, yet enjoying
their lives even on these sterile parts of our earth's crust.
But these are only few compared with the crowd of living
beings which revel in other more productive provinces of
Mr. Neptune's empire. The reasons of this are easily to be
found in the chemical composition of the granite, of which
Silica amounts to seventy-five per cent (in Cornish Granite
according to Sir Henry De la Beche) ; in the great resist-
ance which it offers to the dissolving power of wind and
weather; and, on the part of the animals, in the equal
dislike to both these qualities. To enter more fully into the
geological conditions, on which animal life chiefly depends,
would lead me too far from my present purpose. I shall
only suggest, that especially the very subordinate presence
of lime (chalk, &c.), of which a great amount is wanted in
building shells or crusts, which you find so often in lower
animals, is certainly one of the most obvious reasons, why
only few animals live in granitic districts.
The second condition, perhaps the first in importance, on
which the peculiarity of a Fauna depends, is the climate.
This is not entirely, at least not always entirely, depending
on the geographical position of the place. The presence of
sea or of large inland-lakes, or of forests, or the peculiar
relative position, often produces quite another climate, as
ISLES OF SCILLY. 163
indeed might be expected merely from taking the latitude
and longitude. However, these influences do not affect the
sea equally with the land, and my only object was to search
for the denizens of the water. The Isles of Scilly are situ-
ated a little to the west of the sixth degree of western
longitude and exactly in the fiftieth degree of northern
latitude. Mr. Augustus Smith, whose kindness I beg to
acknowledge most thankfully, informs me that the Lizard
point in Tresco has exactly the same latitude as the Lizard
point in Cornwall, which corroborates my statement. These
Islands are therefore the most southern parts of the united
kingdom, if we except the Channel Islands, the position of
which scarcely admits of their being looked upon as a phy-
sical part of England. The mean temperature in summer
is 58° and in winter 45°.
The prevalent wind is South-west or West-south-west.
From all this it appears that the climatal conditions ought to
be very favourable; and, whenever the Rennel current
permits it, we may expect to find even southern forms
swept in by the Atlantic waves. These same stragglers are
found on the Cornish coast, the Fauna of which has been so
admirably worked out.
The last, and I think not the least important fact,
connected with the distribution of Zoological forms round
a coast is the strength of the tide. Not being able to give
results of more scientific observations I must content myself
with communicating the reports of well experienced pilots
and other intelligent seafaring men. From these I have
learned that neap tides run one and a half to two miles an
164 A WEEK IN THE
hour, spring tides three. This is, I beg to remark, the rate
at which the tidal current makes way in the adjacent ocean,
the tide gaining much greater, even much more than double
this strength in the numerous channels which separate the
islands one from another. The height of neap tides is
twelve, of spring tides eighteen feet, although the latter of
course have a variation of several feet, so that the littoral
zone has a range from twenty to twenty-four feet.
Having thus shortly stated, what could influence the
population of the Scillonian sea, I must say that it is not at all
a dense one, although there are multitudes of zoophytes and
hosts of fishes ; there are only a few mollusks, some worms,
and a not very large but interesting number of Echinoderms
(Starfish, Sea-egg, etc.)
I think it is perhaps worth mentioning for the use of
naturalists, who may dredge here after me, that the state-
ments on the nature of the ground in Graeme Spences map
are always very correct, and they may pay particular atten-
tion to their dredge when they find in the chart an " r" in
the midst of " ssh," " s /' " gr," etc. At other places, how-
ever, this "r" does not signify rocks, which might endanger
the dredging, but merely stony ground, as for instance in the
North Channel or Broad Sound, where one may fill the
dredge with stones without losing it. The most productive
ground is, judging from my experience, the north-eastern,
eastern, and southern side of the Islands; but 1 did not find
so great a variety of species by dredging, as by examining
the shore at low water. Next, or perhaps equally productive,
was the laminarian zone, the second in depth ; and it is perhaps
ISLES OF SCILLY. 165
worth remarking that I found some animals at low-water-
mark or even higher, which commonly inhabit deeper water.
It would lengthen this paper unnecessarily, if I should
enumerate all the species ; I shall confine myself therefore
to the mention of the rarer or more characteristic forms.
Among the Fishes, of which I obtained specimens, the
Lancelet, (Amphioocus lanceolatus) is the most interesting
species. I found two specimens at the Northern side of the
Seven Stones, in forty fathoms, two other off the Southern
coast of St. Agnes, in twenty-five fathoms, and a fifth off
the Creeb, in the Road, in three fathoms. Capt. Hugh
Tregarthen, to whom I am very much obliged for several
delightful dredging excursions in the nice Trinity yacht,
" Scilly," knows, how the sight of these beautiful little animals
creates joy and happiness, even amidst water-spouts and
tumbling waves. Of the other fishes, some belong to the
West European seas in common, as the grey Gurnard, (Trigla
Gurnardns); the Mackerel, (Scomber scomber); the Shan,
(Blennins pholis) ; the Hake, (Merlucius vulgaris); the
Sole, (Solea Vulgaris) ; the Plaice, different species of
Pleuronectes, the Conger, (Conger vulgaris); and others,
which are all more or less common at Scilly ; others are re-
presentative rather of the South British Fauna, as the common
Sea Bream, (Pagellus centrodontus ) ; the Sandsmelt, (Ath-
erina presbyter); the Pilchard, (Clupea pilchardus); and
so on ; lastly I found some, which occur all round the coast,
though rarer than those first mentioned, as the Sun-fish,
( Orthagoriscus mola) ; the Cornish and spotted Sucker,
( Lepadog aster Cornubiencis ) and ( bimaculatus ) and some
166 A WEEK IN THE
others, or which are comparatively rare in the South, though
abundant in the North, as the Cod, (Gadus Morrhua) ;
the Lumpsucker, (Cyclopterus lumpus); the Herring, (Clupea
Harengus). Of great economical importance, are the Scad,
(Caranx trachurns); the Conger, the Ling, (Lota molva) ;
which are taken in great numbers, and dried and preserved
as winter stores.
The greater number of Shellfishes were found between
tide marks. Beyond these there were only the Patella pel-
lucida in the laminarian roots, some minute species of A nomia
in deeper water and some few of the almost microscopical
univalves, the species of which I have not yet had means to
identify. The Limpet, (Patella vulgata) occurs on many
places even beyond high- water-mark. That there exists a
specific difference between those higher growing limpets,
and those nearer low-water-mark, I could not satisfy myself.
The fishermen, however, despise the higher ones as coarse
bait, which no reasonable fish would take. It abounds all
round the Isles, and is frequently used as bait, and even as
food; but I am afraid even scalloped limpets would not
suit a refined palate. Equally abundant on rocks is
Turbo littoreus, the Periwinkle, and Trochtis ziziphinus,
and umbilicatus, whilst Cockles, Scallops, Razor-shells,
and Queens, are found in the sandy flats of Tresco and
St Martin's, though scarcer than the former.
There is also a pretty large number of naked Mollusks,
found either between tide-marks on rocks, or in deeper water.
They mostly belong to the genera Doris, Eolis, Hermcea,
Triopa, Polycera, Doto, Aplysia, and Actceon. Especially
ISLES OF SCILLY. 167
in favour as an habitat for some of them is that pretty sea-
weed, Codiurn tomentosum, on the leaves of which, some
specimens either of Actaeon or Hermoea are nearly always
to be found.
The lowest animals of the molluscous class, the Ascidians,
those curious jelly-like animals, " which live at the bottom
of their own lungs," have numerous representatives in
these Islands, especially those social forms which live
together embedded in one common mass, and which we
call compound Ascidians. There is scarcely one stone at
St. Martin's flats, or the South-western point of Samson,
which does not bear some forms of these animals. Out of
thirty species recorded as British, in Professor Forbes's
and Mr. Hanley's work on British Mollusca, I found
twenty species to be inhabitants of the Scilly Islands. I
was less fortunate with regard to the simple Ascidians, rinding
only about eight species, most of them in deep water off
Peninnis Head, and the South coast of St. Agnes.
Marine articulated animals, (as Crabs and Worms,) occur
most generally round these Islands, yet more numerous
with regard to specific difference than to the frequency of
specimens of a single species. A list of higher Crustacea
has kindly been sent by Mr. Couch. But also some lower
forms occur, though not very plentiful. Among the parasitic
sucking Crustacea, (Siphonostomata) I found some inter-
esting species belonging to the genera Cirolana, Cccrops,
Lcemargus, Caliyus, &c. And the family of sand-hoppers,
water-fleas and others, which seem to be nothing but legs,
have not been forgotten, when these lonely Isles were first
168 A WEEK IN THE
peopled. Only three forms of Cirripedia, (Barnacles, &c.,)
came under my notice, the first, a Balanus, which covers
some of the Western rocks entirely, and is abundant
everywhere ; the second a pedunculated form, adhering to
Corallines from deep water; and lastly one out of the
mouth of a sun-fish, who had gone to sleep before it
occurred to him to chew his dessert. There were thousands
of the common Barnacle sticking to a piece of wreck at the
Western coast of Annet, but they came probably with the
vessel, and do not belong to the Fauna of this place.
Of Worms I obtained but few specimens. The most
common is a species of Nereis, which the fishermen use for
bait, the common lugworm being rather scarce, at least at
certain times of the year. Another species of the same
genus is generally found in the roots of laminarians and at
low-water-mark, where also some of the sedentary forms,
are to be found. I did not find a single specimen of the
Seamouse, (Aphrodite) but as representatives of the family
some species of Polynoe. Some fishes furnished me with
intestinal worms, of which Tristoma Molae from the skin of
the same uncouth looking Sunfish is the most interesting.
The next class is that of the Echinodermata (animals with
spinous skin.) Among the true starfishes the Gibbous Star-
let, (Asterina Gibbosa) is the most common. It is found
between tide-marks everywhere. The next in abundance is
the common Crossfish, (Uraster Rubens) which during the
time of my stay has kept between tide-marks. Rare are the
spiny Crossfish, (Uraster Glacialis) the eyed Cribella, and
the Butthorn, (Asterias Aurantiaca) of which I found only
ISLES OF SC1LLY. 169
single specimens. The Sand and Brittle-stars are repre-
sented by five species, as far as I know. The Rosy Feather-
star, ( Comatula Rosea) one of the finest animals which people
the sea, " whose history is a little romance," occurred only
twice in fifteen fathoms, but very frequently between tide-
marks. There came up with the dredge one fine adult and
one young specimen of Echinus Flemingii, Fleming's Sea-
urchin, one of the rarest British Echinoderms, from thirty
fathoms water off Menawethan. Besides this, the Common
Sea-urchin, (E. sphcera) and Purple Hearturchin, (Spatangus
purpureus) were frequently caught ; also the green Sea-urchin,
( Echinocyamus pusillus) made its appearance frequently.
The angular Sea-cucumber, (Cucumaria pentactes) and the
Nigger or Cottonspinner (whose systematic name I have not
been able to find) the former more common than the latter,
were found between tide-marks and in the laminarian zone.
New to the British Fauna is a Synapte (Duverncea ?) which
I found, dredging in very shallow water between St. Martin's
and Great Ganilly, adhering to the rope.
Medusa seem to occur abundantly, the sea sparkling in
calm nights like fluid gold ; but I have not yet obtained
sufficient materials to give any remarks on them.
On the Zoophytes you will find an excellent paper here-
after; the list subjoined is so complete, that I could find
but few species which were not observed by the author of
"The Cornish Fauna."
Taking all together, I do not think that these Islands
could be compared with regard to their zoology to other
localities; to the Channel Islands for instance, which are
170 ISLES OF SCILLY.
also granite ; nor should I be inclined to believe that they
could prove it to be a mere prejudice to think them less
productive than other parts of the British Coast. However,
they yielded not only several rare, but even new forms, and
I think it will be always worth while to spend some weeks
here dredging and exploring the tide-marks, the better time
for which is now perhaps coming on.
Finally, I cannot shake hands without giving my sincerest
thanks to all those gentlemen, who made my sojourn in this
western end of the world so agreeable and instructive.
Good bye !
MANY of the visiters to these Islands will no doubt have
observed in the course of their wanderings along the sea
margin of the beaches, numerous dead crabs lying amidst
the tangle of the sea-weed. These are not what they at
first seem, and in fact, are not dead crabs at all ; or not
more so than the cast skin of the serpent is the serpent
itself. On examination these shells will be found to
be entirely hollow, destitute of even a fragment of flesh.
The eyes, the claws, the body, are the mere skins which
the former owners have left to be destroyed by the winds and
waves. It must be known to all, that crabs and lobsters
like most other creatures, grow ; and yet perhaps it has
rarely, if ever, occurred to the mind to enquire how that
growth can be effected, seeing that the external case is so solid
and unyielding. These fragments found on the shore will
explain the mystery. All crabs and lobsters grow, first by
casting off the hard external case, and afterwards rapidly
enlarging the new one before it has become hard. In the
172 A WEEK IN THE
very young, this process is effected frequently through the
year ; but less so as they get older. Those of middle size
do it from once to four times during the year, while in the
very old it is of irregular and rare occurrence. When a
crab is about to cast its shell, it becomes more inactive than
usual; a new skin is formed under the old crust, and
finally the old one is altogether removed from any vital
connection with the animal. During this process the differ-
ent seams become loose, and the frame fragile. In most
crabs, there is a waved seam under the front of the back
or dorsal surface, this becomes disunited and the two edges
become separated ; and this is continued quite round to the
hinder legs. This separation gradually increases, and the
animal, by imbibing sea-water, obtains a great lever by
which all the external parts become widely separated. The
animals then escape backward, leaving the shell entire, and
as the parts are elastic they then close again and thus it leaves
the case as perfect as if the crab still remained within. The
creature after it has escaped, is as soft as wet parchment, and
may be wrapped into any shape. The internal parts are all
present but very indistinct from this watery condition. No
sooner is the animal liberated from the old shell, than it
swallows a large quantity of fluid, and distends itself to the
utmost. In this state we have known a crab grow from one
inch and a half to two inches and one-eighth in a very few
minutes. The crabs do not remain in this soft state very
long. Fresh lime is deposited in the new skin, which in a
few days becomes as hard as that just shed. In casting the
old shell, every part of the body is renewed. The coatings
ISLES OF SCILLY. 173
of the eye, of the stomach, blood-vessels, and the large flat
structures in the claws are left behind and re-formed in the
new. If a crab has suffered an injury, or lost a claw, the
injuries are repaired and the claws are reproduced in these
periodical renewings of youth. Notwithstanding, however,
these renovations, age will at length assert her rights, and
inflict her penalties. They lose at last, their full power of
entirely shedding the shell and hence frequently die in
the very act. This mode of growth will readily explain
what visiters will frequently find in their researches among
the rocks. In the first place it shows why so many empty
shells are occasionally seen washed up by the tide ; in the
second, why crabs in a soft watery state, are sometimes
found below stones, between tide-marks ; and in the last,
why the claws of crabs are so irregular in size. We could
willingly enter more particularly into interesting detail on
on these points but our limits forbid. To those who wish
to know more on the subject, we would recommend the
Reports of the Polytechnic Society of Cornwall,* and the
History of British Crustacea by Bell.'}- In these works it
will be found, that the crab, like the butterfly undergoes a
series of metamorphoses on its passages from the egg to the
adult state. But we turn from these considerations to those
of more practical utility, especially to those who are fond of
crabs as an addition to the pleasures of the table.
The Common or Edible Crab, (Cancer Pagurus) is
common from the smallest to the largest size. Those best
* Papers by Messrs. J. and R. Q. Couch.
t Published by Vun Voorst.
174 A WEEK IN THE
fitted for the table are the males, the females being rarely
sought after. The distinction between the sexes may at once
be ascertained, by examining the triangular flap that lies
bent on the under-portion of the crab ; in the males it is
narrow, occupying the centre of the groove only, while
in the females it is widely spread even to the roots of
the claws on either side. The males only are selected
for the London market. Crabs are sometimes said to
be in and out of season, according to the solidity of the
flesh ; but this can apply only to that individual case, and
not to the general season. If the crabs and lobsters change
their shells irregularly throughout the year, there must be
many both in and out of season, during every month of the
year; and the fluidity of the flesh depends therefore only
on the arrival of the period in which they may be about to
cast their shells.
Lobsters are also abundant in deep water, and are ex-
ported to the London and other Markets.
Prawns are to be found among the pools and between
the rocks at low water, in great abundance ; large quantities
of which are weekly sent to the market at Penzance.
The subjoined is a list of the Crustacea which we have
discovered in the neighbourhood.
Smaller Spider Crab. . Stenorynchus longirostis, deep water, soft ground.
. Phalangium, deep water, among rocks.
Scorpion Spider Inachus scorpio, in crab pots.
Dorynchus, in crab pots.
Sea Spider Pisa Gibsii, crab pots.
Corwich Maia squinado, in moderately deep water.
Furrowed Crab .... Xantho florida, low water, under stones.
Small Furrowed Crab . rivulosa, low water, under stones.
Crab Cancer Pagurus, low-water rocks.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 175
Furry Crab Pilumnus hirtellus, under stones, low-water.
Canker Carcinus moenos, common.
Veket Crab Portunus puber, common about tide-marks, under
Nipper Crab corrugatus, rare.
Swimming Crab depurator, rare, taken in nets.
Marbled Crab marmoreus, deep water, nets.
Livid Swimming Crab holsatus, fragment of shell only, at Old
Swimming Nipper Crab Polybius Henslowii, pilchard nets, deep water.
Angular Crab Gonoplax angulata, trawl.
Planes Linnceana, in sea-weed.
Long Armed Crab. . . . Corystes Cassivelaunus, Grimsby, on the beach.
Common Soldier Pagurus Bernhardus, common.
Hermit Crab Prideauxii, old shells.
Hermit ulidianus, shells.
Hermit Hyndmanni, rare.
Hairy Crab Porcellana platycheles, low-water, under stones.
Hair Crab longicornis, low-water.
Plated Lobster Galathea squamifera, off the shores.
Spinous Lobster strigosa
Craw Fish Palinurus vulgaris, common in deep water .
Lobster Homarus vulgaris,
Shrimp Crangon vulgaris, common.
•• Hyppolyte cranchii, crab pots, rare.
Prawn Palsemon serratus, common.
Note. — Mr. Couch, who has furnished me with the full and accurate account of
the Zoophytes which is subjoined, has also favoured me with this interesting
information on the Crustacea. I feel that my thanks are a very inadequate
return for the pains which he has taken on my behalf.
THE creatures included under the term Zoophyte are exceed-
ingly interesting; for though rooted and arborescent, and in
many other particulars assuming the external appearance of
vegetables, yet they are in reality of an animal character.
It may be difficult to persuade the uninitiated of the truth
of this. Fixed to their bed by roots as perfectly as any
tree, with branches spreading in all directions, with buds and
blossoms, and a periodic developement of fruit which falls
off when ripe; with characters thus vegetable, it seems a
contradiction to the evidence of our senses to suppose them
to be of any other than vegetable origin. But notwith-
standing all this their animal character is undoubted. The
little cups which are observed to give the zigzag appearance
to the branches and stems of the horny kinds, are the
habitation of the little polypes which have erected the
superstructure. The polypes nestle in these cups when
in a state of rest, but when taking their food, they protrude
themselves from their hiding place and extend their flexible
178 A WEEK IN THE
arms to catch their prey. This is no sooner done than it is
conveyed to the mouth and into the stomach, where it is
digested. The nourishment thus taken by each polype is
conveyed to all parts of the tree by means of a central vital
pulp, which connects all the polypes together. The larger
cells frequently observed, are the fruit or ovarian vesicles,
and are produced in the summer and autumn, then ripen
and fall off. These cells contain small globes covered with
minute hairs, which are constantly in motion. When the
grains have escaped into the surrounding water, they whirl
themselves about, like worlds in miniature, in search of a
place on which to rest. According to the temperature is the
time thus occupied. Having settled on a fitting spot, the
hairs on the lower part become converted into roots, and
that, which was before so active and unrestrained a creature,
becomes rooted for as long a period as life shall last. The
roots below increase and the upper parts shoot up into the
forms characteristic of each species. It would be out of
place in a work like the present to enter into the strange
eventful history of these creatures ; to say how they resist
the injuries of the knife, how they can be cut up and yet
each part can become a new animal, or how they can be
turned inside out, and yet digestion will go on as well as
before ; these points will be found fully described in works
dedicated to this branch of Natural History.
The species here enumerated have been taken among the
islands. In making the examination the collector was
satisfied with a single specimen of each, and hence he did
not carefully note the frequency with which each species
ISLES OF SCILLY. 179
occurred. There can be no doubt, but that the localities in
which they may be found would have been increased, if time
had permitted a longer search, and several species will
probably be added to the list by subsequent observers.
The present enumeration therefore, must be taken as the
result of a very limited examination, and must be considered
as only an approximation to the true number. The names
employed are chiefly those used in the third part of the
Fauna of Cornwall; and this has been done to facilitate
any reference which collectors may be desirous of making :
for in that work there is an extensive list of synonyms
for each species. Among those here enumerated is the
Gorgonla flabellum, a species found also by Dr. Borlase
on the shores of Mount's Bay. I think it must be allowed
that the specimen of Mount's Bay and that found at Bar
Point are Foreign. Both were dead when discovered, as
well as much injured, and the great number of homeward-
bound vessels that shelter among the islands will fully
account for the occasional appearance of the species in
that locality. After extensive dredging and examination of
the dredges of trawlers from different parts of the shores,
no living specimen has yet been discovered.
The subjoined is a List of Zoophytes found at Scilly.
Coryne squamata, on tea-weeds and rocks between tide-marks. Pen-
innvs Head, St. Mary's, St. Agnes, and Tresco.
Hydractinia echinata, St. Mary's, Tresco. Formerly supposed to be
a variety of C. Squamata.
Hcrmia glandulosa, on stones between tide-marks, St. Mary's, St.
Tubularia ramca, from deep water, between Samson and Annet.
indivisa, off St. Mary's, deep water.
180 A WEEK IN THE
Tabularia larynx, at low-water mark, on the under surface of over-
hanging rocks in muddy situations, Tresco and Samson,
Thoa halecina, a shell from deep water off St. Mary's.
Sertularia polyzonias, Vara. and b.} with S. Ellisii, on shells and
stones, from deep water .
pumila, between tide-marks, on fuel, St. Mary's, Tresco, St.
Agnes, and St. Martin's.
tamarisca, St. Martin's, deep water .
> abietina, St. Mary's, off Old Town.
filicula, on sea-weeds, L. digitata, $c.
operculata, St. Martin's, on the stem of large sea-weeds.
argentea, from deep water off Kettle Point, Tresco.
Thuiaria thuja, fragments found on the beach at Porcrasa Hay, St.
Antennularia antennina, St. Mary's.
ramosa, off Johnston, St. Mary's.
Plumularia falcata, deep water, Tresco.
— • cristata, on the stems of the larger sea-weed.
•^^—^— — catherina, fragment on a shell at St. Martin's.
frutescens, St. Mary's.
Laomedea dichotoma, in pools between tide marks.
Geniculata, in pools.
obliqua, a small specimen from Bryher.
Campanularia syringa, St. Agnes.
dumosa, parasitical on P. falcata, Tresco.
Gorgonia verrucosa, from deep water.
flabellum, a dead specimen on the beach under Har Point,
Alcyonium digitatum, deep water, on shells.
Turbinolia borealis, on a stone from deep water ; a variety, I believe,
of Caryophyllia Smithii .
Milletiana, dredged off the coast of Scilly, by Mr. Mac
Andrew, and Professor Forbes.
Caryophyllia Smithii, deep water, on stones
Zoanthus Couchii, off the North of Tresco.
Capnea sanguinca, Tresco. Deep water, on a shell.
Corynactis viridis, St. Mary's,
Actinia mesembryanthemum, pools and rocks.
margaratifera, St. Mary's.
viduata, Tresco, sandy places between tide-marks.
alba, in muddy crevices .
chrysanthellum, inlets in a sandy nook, North of Tresco,
• gemmacea var b,, Tresco.
parasitica, deep water, on a shell.
bellis, in pools and in crevices and muddy nooks.
ISLES OP SCILLY. 181
Actinia dianthus, pools.
Anthea cereus, pools.
Lucernaria auricula, beyond low-toater-mark, underneath the Castle,
fascicularis, by Dr. Carus, at Norwithiel, on muddy stones, at
Tubulipora patina, on stones and shells from deep water, St. Martin's.
hispida St. Martin's.
penicillata, St. Martin's.
phalangea, St. Martin's
serpens, St. Martin's
. obelia, Tresco, from the North Shore.
trahens, St. Mary's, deep water.
Crisia eburnea, among the roots of the larger sea-weed.
cornuta, Roots of sea-weed.
chelatus, Roots of sea-weed.
Hippothoa catenularia, on shell from deep water.
cassiterides, on a stone between the Islands and Land's End-
Cellepora pumicosa, on shells and stones.
ramulosa, off Annet.
cervicoruis, deep water.
Lepralia granifera, on a stone at St. Agnes.
pedilostoma, St. Agnes, St. Mary's.
reticulata, St. Agnes.
variolosa, St. Mary's.
nitida, Si. Agnes.
trident ata, St. Agnes.
immersa, St. Mary's.
Membranipora pilosa var a. and b. , on sea-weed.
membranacea, on sea-weed.
Cellularia ciliata, on corallines and roots of sea-weed.
scruposa, among the roots of tea-weed.
reptans, among the matted roots of sea-weed.
avicularia, from deep water on the roots of sea-weed.
Flustra foliacea, a fragment on the Crow Bar, St. Mary's.
membranacea, on the fronds of sea-weed, as a thin gauze-like
Eschara foliacea, deep water.
Retepora reticulata, fragment on the strand at Old Town Bay.
Salicornia farciminoides, deep water.
Valkeria spinosa, on sea-weed, Tresco .
cuscata, on Sert Pumila.
Serialaria lendigera, on sea-weed, Tresco.
I am indebted to the kindness of E. W. Cooke, Esq.,* for
some interesting information relative to the Ferns which
are to be found in the Isles. Mr. Cooke did not visit us
until the month of September, when, to quote his words,
" some species disappear, or rather so dwindle down as not
to be readily recognized." Of these, however, he says
" I do not think that more than two may have escaped me."
" Without doubt " he adds " the grand botanical feature
of Scilly, is that most beautiful and very interesting species,
Asplenium marinum, or Sea Spleenwort. It attains among
the spray- washed rocks, which gird the Islands of Scilly, a
luxuriance no where else to be met with in Britain ; and, I
should venture to say, not excelled in any part of Europe.
"In the fissures of rocks, which form those peculiar earns
or promontories which radiate in every direction, and are
so remarkable a feature of the Islands, this fern grows most
* Mr. Cooke, whose residence is the " Perns" Kensington, has made this
province of the botanical kingdom his peculiar study.
184 ISLES OF SCILLY.
superbly, attaining to the length of nearly thirty-three
inches. At Peninnis Head, Forth Hellick, and other parts of
the South Coast of St. Mary's, it is the most abundant : but
I met with it on most of the rocks in St. Mary's, St. Agnes,
and Tresco ; the usual length of the fronds being twelve,
fifteen, or twenty inches. The fronds are generally fertile,
and often in confluent fruit. Its roots are black and brittle ;
and penetrate far into the crevices of the rocks, (which are
chiefly of the very coarsest granite, and which, therefore,
readily decompose,) and are attached so firmly that the
plants are not obtained without much patience and difficulty.
"To the very congenial air of Scilly, the temperature
averaging in summer 58°, and in winter 45°, may be
attributed the perfection of this plant. The extreme saline
influences to which these Islands are subject, are at the
same time a favourable cause of no less importance.
" The difficulty, if not the impossibility of cultivating this
species in the open air, away from the sea, is too well known
to need comment : * but it luxuriates in the stove, and will
bear any degree of heat, if accompanied by moist atmos-
phere. Specimens which I obtained from Scilly in
September, 1848, are now growing very beautifully in my
hot-house. They are planted between masses of sand-stone,
and fruit abundantly. I saw some beautiful plants growing
in a well near the Star Castle, St. Mary's.
Asplenium lanceolatum, a species whose habitat must be
sought also, with few exceptions, near the sea-coast, as far
* The genera of Trichomanes and Hymenophyllum, also requiring
perpetual moisture, can only be cultivated under bell glasses or in ward-
cases j and these are, perhaps, of still more difficult culture.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 185
as my observation extended, grows only in St. Agnes.
Some specimens, which I found near the Light-house, were
so much smaller than the Cornish species, and presented so
distinct a character, that I think they may be considered as
constituting a variety. Most of the fronds were fertile.
"Asplenium adiantum nigrum, or Black Spleenwort, I also
found in St Agnes ; but did not meet with it elsewhere.
" I have also an impression that Asplenium ruta-muraria
was growing on a stone wall in St. Mary's, between the
town and Holy Vale.
" Lastrcea recurva, so abundant in the West of Cornwall,
I found but in one locality on St. Mary's ; and I do not
think it is likely to be met with in the off-islands.
"Osmunda regalis, or royal flowering fern, is very abundant
in one (and I believe the only) locality, viz., the Marsh near
Old Town, St. Mary's. In this spot, intersected as it is
with water, this noble fern spreads over a considerable tract
of swampy ground, attaining a very large size. The rich,
amber colour of its luxuriant foliage presents in the autumn
a most charming effect. Numerous small plants dispersed
amidst the larger ones, and equally fertile, presented all the
characters which belong to the Osmunda gracile of North
America, being most exquisitely and delicately formed.
"In the Marsh also we met with Lastrce jilix-mas, Lastrcea
dilatata, and Lastrcea spinulosa, together with Asplenium
filix ftzmina, in great profusion. The two former species
are also generally distributed in St. Mary's.
"Polypodium vulgare is abundant on the walls in St. Mai \ 's
and St. Agnes. It is very large and fine at Holy Vale.
186 A WEEK IN THE
" Scolopendrium officinarum, or common Hart's-tongue, I
also saw in the well* before mentioned, but I do not recollect
observing it elsewhere.
" Pteris Aquilina is generally distributed, but small."
The following is a list of the different genera and species
which Mr. Cooke found here.
Osmunda Regalis, Royal or Flowering fern .
Asplenium marinum, Sea Spleen-wort.
adiantum nigrum, Slack-hair1 'd maiden.
ruta muraria, W nil-rue fern.
lanceolatum, Hudson's Spleen-wort-
Lastroea filix-mas, Male-fern.
dilatata, Broad shield fern.
spinulosa, A variety of the preceding .
Polystichum lobatum, Prickly fern.
angulare, A varitty of the preceding,
Polypodium vulgare, Common poly~pody.
Scolopendrium officinarum, Common hart't-tongue.
Pteris aquilina, Common brake .
The weather was very rough and stormy during Mr.
Cooke's sojourn in the Isles, so that he was prevented
visiting Bryher, St. Martin's, and Sampson, where he thinks
it probable that he might have met with some other species.
* The well here meant, is that at the entrance of the Garrison, near the
master-gunner's house. I may add, however, that this fern grows very lux-
uriantly at the mouth of a well near Newford Orchard, on St. Mary's. I
have gathered a frond, this month (September), twenty-three inches in length,
and several more somewhat shorter. It is also, I am nearly certain, found
OF THE SCILLY ISLANDS.
Extracted from a Paper read before the Royal Geological
Society of Cornwall in September, 1850.
THE whole of the islands are composed of granite, and as
there are no excavations worthy of the name of quarries,
these remarks will apply to the granite only as it is seen on
It has been generally supposed that the granite of Scilly is
a continuation of that of the Land's-end, but as in dredging
between the islands and the main land, sea-weed is often
brought up attached to bits of slate or greenstone ; and as the
Woolf rock, which lies not far southward of a line from the
Land's-end to Scilly, is not granite but greenstone, there is
reason to believe that a tract of slate or greenstone occurs
between the Land's-end and the islands, and that the granite
of the latter is a separate and distinct range.
The inclination or strike of the granite of Scilly is, with
few exceptions, towr.rds the N. or N. N. W. This is evident
in many parts of St. Mary's, at New Grimsby in Tresco,
and particularly on the northern coast of St. Agnes and
188 A WEEK IN THE
Annet, and in most of the islands and reefs west of
In the few remarks which I can offer on this subject, I
shall refer to
I. The Jointed structure of the granite.
It is impossible to view the granite of the islands without
being struck with its intersection by lines — often very minute —
in different directions : these are joints, and are easily mis-
taken for cracks. Whether they are the result of the
contraction of the granite in cooling, or owe their existence
to certain laws of crystallization, is not easy to decide.
They are, however, more numerous at the surface than in
deeper parts, and wherever they appear, although they may
be less apparent in one part of a block than in another,
they can generally be traced throughout the whole.
The direction of the joints appears so various and irregular,
and many of them are so crossed and curved, that on a
cursory view, it might be deemed impossible to reduce them
to any general system ; but a closer inspection will shew that
(as in most granite districts) they may be divided into three
series: 1. those which are horizontal, or nearly so, and
parallel with what is called the grain of the rock, or
the direction in which it may be most easily quarried.
In this direction the granite of the islands is generally
cloven, and the work is called "capping and quartering."
2. The vertical or perpendicular joints whose direction is
generally N. and S. or perhaps N. N. W. and S. S. E.
These, which are often inclined, may be called the cleavage
planes, because, in most granite districts, the rocks are
ISLES OF SCILLY. 189
cloven in this direction, it being found in practice the most
convenient and economical. 3. The vertical joints having a
direction varying from E. and W. to E. N. E. and W. S. W.
These are generally inclined to the N. or N. N. W. parallel
with the general dip or strike of the granite. When the
rock is thickly jointed, the inclined masses seem to repose
on each other like strata of slate, as on the western side of
Peninnis Head : at Watermill Bay, the joints are so close
to each other, and so highly inclined, as to give to the
whole mass the appearance of stratified granite.
II. The Disintegration and Decomposition of the granite.1
There is little doubt that wherever joints occur, there is
the commencement of decomposition, but, according to the
quality of rock, it may be rapid, or very slow : generally, by
the action of the elements, the lines gradually become
fissures, which, more or less rapidly, make their way into
the rock, and often cause an entire separation.
1. If the vertical and horizontal joints cross each other
nearly at right angles, the rocks will appear to be divided into
irregular quadrangular masses (as in the western groups at
Peninnis) : as decomposition proceeds, these will be gradually,
and at length entirely, separated from the main body, and
rounded at their edges and angles by the influence of the
elements : if they are not much inclined, they may continue
in their original position; but if otherwise, they will fall
from the mass, and either remain in heaps near the foot, or
l It is often difficult to decide whether the effects are those of decomposi-
tion or of mere disintegration. With respect to the joints, it is possible that
both may be in operation, but the rounding of the sharp points of the rocks,
and the formation of the rock basins, have probably been effected by disinte-
190 A WEEK IN THE
be rolled to a considerable distance. l Some may continue in
detached perpendicular groups forming what are called Tors,
(as at Cam Leh, Dick's Carn, $fc.) ; and rounded insula-
ted rocks may be so placed on other rocks as to form what
Dr. Borlase calls Tolmens (as the Drum rock, and a similar
rock at the head of Old Townporth). 2. When decomposition
proceeds rapidly on the perpendicular joints, and has little
effect on the horizontal ones, the rocks acquire a columnar form
resembling basaltic pillars, the horizontal joints answering
to the joints of basalt.2 3. If the perpendicular joints are very
thickly inserted in the granite, with scarcely any horizontal
joints, the whole mass, as the joints yield to decomposition,
appears divided into large slabs standing upright; some
entirely separate, whilst others are still united at the centre :
one of the best instances of this may be seen at Peninnis
Head. 4. The decomposition at the horizontal joints, where
there are few vertical ones, produces groups of flat tabular
masses or slabs, of which the upper ones frequently protrude
far beyond those on which they stand. The Pulpit rock is a
fine specimen of horizontal decomposition ; others may be
seen at the Blue earn, the Clapper rocks, and in many other
parts. It is possible that the Logan stones may have been
formed by similar decomposition.
A more interesting effect of decomposition, or rather
1 It is almost impossible to observe the piles of loose rocks — many of them
of immense size, — resting on the rocky beach between Tolmen Point and
the Giant's Castle, without the conviction that they must have fallen from
a higher situation.
2 This is finely exhibited in the rocks at, and south of, the Land's-end of
Cornwall, especially at Tol Pedn Penwith.
ISLES OP SCILLY. 191
disintegration, appears in the Rock Basins. They are
rarely seen on the rocks covered by the sea at high water,
but otherwise they are so general that the rocks on whose
surface they do not appear, form the exception. As they
have been so particularly alluded to in this volume, nothing
further need be said in the way of description. That they
are artificial, as Dr. Borlase contends, is a doctrine now
generally rejected ; but a few of the facts which oppose it
may be worthy of notice : some of these existed when Dr.
Borlase wrote, and time has since furnished others. 1 . They
are deepest and most common where the rocks are most
exposed to the prevailing winds and the spray of the sea.
In St. Mary's they abound on that part which extends from
the S. W. to the S. E. but are few and shallow in the other
parts of the island. 2. Some of them appear in the sides
of the rocks, just as if, after they had been formed on the top,
the rocks had been overturned : they may be thus seen near
Pitt's parlour at Peninnis, and also at the Clapper rock.
3. In some cases, when one rock is overlaid by another,
basins are formed on the lower rock : this occurs at the
Clapper rock, and also near the Sun rock, but the best
instance may be seen about a quarter of a mile north of
the Sun rock, where a large block of granite rests on
another block imbedded in the ground, the space between
the two rocks being only a few inches : on the surface
of the lower rock are three regular basins, which could
not have been worked out by tools : the top of the upper
rock has also several basins. 4. The disintegration in the
basins is still proceeding: loose particles of quartz and
192 A WEEK IN THE
felspar are commonly found in them, and in several, there are
openings in the sides or at the bottom, some of which have
taken place within the recollection of persons now living.
5. On the rising ground above Porth Loggos, there is an
immense flat rock, nearly level with the ground, said to be
173 feet long, and 138 feet wide, of which Dr. Borlase says
" We found the back of the rock cleaved by art (at least as it
seemed to us) of all unevenness, and making one plane of
rock." This was written about one hundred years ago : its
surface is now covered with small basins, drains, and shallow
It is not impossible that the rock basins, as well as the
Logan stones and other natural monuments, might have
been used by the Druids for superstitious purposes, but
the facts already stated are sufficient to prove that they
have not been formed by art, but by disintegration, caused
by the alternate action of the elements on rocks peculiarly
favorable to their operation, either from a mixture of iron or
some other extraneous substance in their composition, or
from the peculiar arrangement of the crystals of the different
In those parts of the coast which are exposed to the
prevailing winds and the lash of the waves, the rocks are
weathered into the most singular and fantastic forms, as at
Peninnis and the Clapper rocks in St. Mary's, the Nag's
head in St. Agnes, &c. In the latter island some of the
rocks resemble gigantic petrified mushrooms. Decomposition
is also often visible on the flat surface of the rocks, as at
the Lizard point in Tresco. The existence of white clay in
ISLES OF SCILLY. 193
Holy Vale moor, and in the moors between Porth Mellin
and Old Town, is also an indication of it below the surface.
III. Regenerated or Secondary Granite.
There are many instances in the islands in which, at first
sight, it appears doubtful whether the granite is in the pro-
cess of disintegration, or whether the constituent parts which
had been previously separated by disintegration, have become
re-united (by what agency it is difficult to say) before they
were completely decomposed. This kind may be found on
Rat island, and at Piper s hole in St. Mary's ; at Piper's
hole in Tresco; and in numerous other localities. The
principal reason for supposing it to be regenerated granite is
that, in both the caverns alluded to, of which it forms the
whole or the principal part of the roof, it contains bowlders
or rounded masses of perfect granite, — some of them pretty
large : it is not easy to suppose that these could have been
enclosed in original granite.
Unless these bowlders may be supposed to be the remains
of ancient beaches, I have not observed on the islands any
of those remains : it is not improbable however that they
may be visible in the roofs of other caverns which I have
IV. Varieties of Granite.
The granite of Scilly is not always confined to the usual
constituent parts of quartz, felspar, and mica : shorl is a
very common ingredient, sometimes accompanying the mica
( Lizard point, Tresco), and sometimes replacing it (Old
Town porth) : hornblende is a more rare one ( Old Town
porth), and chlorite still rarer. In some parts it is porphyritic
194 A WEEK IN THE
(Watermill bay) ; but in general that term is not applicable
to it : the felspar is sometimes of a deep red colour ( Old
Town porth, — Porth Munich, — The Cow rock). In one
locality ( Lizard point, Tresco) the mica of the granite is in
its primitive crystal, a solid rhomboid being formed by the
accumulation of rhomboidal tables : in other parts the mica
is in hexagonal tables, often forming prisms by their accu-
mulation (Peninnis) : on Taylor's island, the mica is replaced
by minute prisms of tourmaline, often with a perfect termi-
nation. Binary granite, composed of only two of the usual
ingredients, occurs at Porth Hellick, both as quartz and
felspar, and as quartz and mica.
The granite of Scilly is, in general, of a rather coarse
quality, and from its colour, iron appears to be frequently
associated with it. No doubt there is excellent granite in
several of the islands, but it is often so mixed up with what
is inferior, that there is little hope of its being extensively
quarried for exportation : it is possible however, that the
compact granite may run in courses or ranges through the
coarser or softer kinds : this might be discovered without
much difficulty by following it so far as to ascertain its
direction, and examining the granite in different parts in
that direction. There is very compact granite at Peninnis,
but close to it there is some of a very different kind.
The best, I think, may be found in some of the western
islets, particularly in Rosevear, of which a specimen may
be seen in the habitations of the St. Agnes light-house men :
that of the Bishop, — the most western rock of the whole
group, — is also very compact, although a little discoloured.
ISLES OF SCILLY. 195
V. Veins in the Granite.
These are of various kinds. Sir H. De la Beche has
remarked that granite veins in the granite are not unfrequent
in St. Mary's, St. Martin's, Tresco, Brehar, and St. Agnes:
some of these, however, owe their vein-like appearance to an
accumulation of parallel joints, and the decomposition of
the granite on each side of them. The granite of the veins
is almost always much finer than that of the mass. The red
granite is generally found in veins (Old Town and Brehar).
I believe them to be all contemporaneous or as nearly so as
Veins of pure white quartz, — sometimes of a considerable
size. — often intersect the granite : in one of these, at Penin-
nis head, I found a small bunch of rose-coloured quartz :
in another vein between St. Mary's pier and Rat island,
(now covered by the new pier) chalcedony has been found.
At Water mill bay, in St. Mary's, the pebbles on the beach
indicate the contiguity of porphyry and porphyritic granite,
and on the south side of it, between the rivulet and the
curious little quay called Newquay, there is what has been
called by some an elvan course, and by others a mass of
decidedly stratified granite : it is of considerable length :
it rises above the granite that joins it on each side, and
seems to lie in thick strata, which are subdivided into
smaller strata, dipping at a large angle about N. N. W. : it
is decided porphyry with small crystals of quartz and
felspar : the adjoining granite has also the same stratified
appearance. The question is, whether the lines of division
of the apparent strata are joints, or whether the whole hits
196 A WEEK IN THE
a slaty structure : the former appears to me the most
probable. This spot must be visited at low-water, or the
most interesting part will be covered by the sea.
Of metalliferous veins or lodes, there are some in three
or four of the islands, but none which any competent miner
would suppose had ever yielded any considerable quantity
of tin. Several years ago, in digging for a foundation
for the store-keeper's house within the lines of the
Garrison hill, a lode was discovered which produced some
tin very near the surface, but the quantity, and the lode
itself, being very small, it attracted no further attention.
In the small uninhabited island of Norwethel, some lodes
are visible in the cliffs, and efforts have been frequently
made to explore them, but unsuccessfully. In Tresco there are
some lodes, on one of which near Piper's hole are the only
remains of former works now existing in any of the islands :
these, however, give no indication of extensive or important
operations. Piper's hole has been called an adit for draining
the mines, but it is far too irregular to admit such a suppo-
sition. Piper's hole in St. Mary's is more regular, and may
possibly have been used for that purpose.
As so much has been already said and written on the
question whether the tin of ancient times was the product of
the Scilly islands, I will add only two remarks to those
which I have elsewhere made on that subject. 1. Dr.
Borlase supposes that a great subsidence of the land has
taken place, by which almost all the marks and relicts of
ancient mining have been submerged ; but this is not only
gratuitous, but inconsistent with another conjecture of his, —
ISLES OF SCILLY. 197
that Piper s hole in Tresco was the adit of the ancient tin-
work there : if it were so, it is evident that no subsidence
of the land can have taken place since. 2. There are two
tracts of low land in St. Mary's ; one extending from Porth
Mellin to Old Town ; the other, from Holy Vale to Porth
Hellich. In Tresco also there is a low tract from New
Grimsby, by the Abbey ponds, to the south-east side of the
island. Now if any mines here had ever been productive
of tin, some traces of diluvial tin would, even in modern
days, be found in these low grounds j but in neither of them
has any tin-ore ever been discovered, as far as can be known
from the testimony of the living, or the records of the past ;
neither has any tin-ore ever been found pulverized amongst
the sands of the sea shore, as it frequently is in the mining
parts of Cornwall which border on the sea ; I see no reason
therefore to alter the opinion expressed elsewhere,1 that the
tin of the Cassiterides could not have been the product of
the Scilly islands, but was probably that of the nearest
land — St. Just, which being visible from Scilly, might easily
have been taken for a large island, and included in the
group to which was given the name of the Cassiterides.
VI. The Sands of the Islands.
These are more diversified than might be expected in
such a small tract. Those which are found on the southern
coasts are generally coarse and gravelly, as at Porth Hellick,
Old town porth, and Porth Cressa, whilst those on the
northern shores are usually very fine, as at Porth Mellin
and the Pool. The sand of Porth Mellin is the most inter-
1 Cornwall Gc-ol. Trans. Vol. 2, page 357.
198 A WEEK IN THE
esting of the whole : here, at low-water, on the surface of
the beach, which is composed of almost impalpable particles
of quartz, — so fine as to be generally used for scouring
household utensils, — may be seen ridges of black mica:
they are not always in the same situation, but are moved
about by the tide : there is very little mica, and that in the
minutest particles, below the surface of the sand. The
granite of Cam Thomas, which adjoins this porth on the
west, contains black mica, and at the foot of the corn the
granite appears to be decomposing : this however will not
account for so much being found on the beach at Porth
Mellin, while in many other coves, where the granite around
them is similarly composed, scarcely any mica can be seen
on the sands : it is difficult to conjecture how, after the dis-
solution of the felspar and the minute reduction of the
quartz, the mica should have remained, in larger particles,
on the surface : is it possible that a gentle current may con-
vey it there from some other part ? Eastward, the sand of
the Bar is quartzose, but less fine, with a very small
admixture of shell : in the sand of Pellestry bay alone is
there a mixture of comminuted shells sufficient to make it
very useful for manure : other sands are frequently used for
that purpose, but their principal virtue is probably that of
loosening close or clayey soils.
On the southern side of Tresco, the sand consists almost
entirely of large particles of pure white quartz, which might
probably be used in the manufacture of porcelain, instead of
pounded flint ; but I am not aware that it has ever been tried.
It will be observed that in this communication I have
ISLEft OF SCILLY. 199
said nothing of St. Martin's island, or of the eastern islands,
and little of Brehar, or Samson. In truth I had not suffi-
cient time to examine them : they must be left for another
" week's visit to the islands."
Page 20. line 1, for 'erected' read 'enriched'
— 65. for ' Pernagic' read ' Pernagie'
— 73. Hue 20, for ' Crasou' read ' Crassou'
— 92. line 13, for ' Ministers' read ' Musters'
— 129. line 13, for ' statutes' read 'statues'
— 131. Note, for ' Woodley' read ' Borlase'
— 154. line 6, for ' subulated' read 'sabulated'
— 155. line 12, for ' anglorra ' read 'anglorum*
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REV. HENRY NORTH.
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